15 Best things to do in Torres Novas (Portugal)

Torres Novas is a beautiful town in the Ribatejo region of central Portugal, guarded by the terrible walls of a medieval castle. The town’s most famous cultural name is esteemed Portuguese painter Carlos Reis, born in the 19th century. He is known for his idyllic depictions, and the city museum has a large collection of his work and that of famous artists of his time.

For fresh air and wonderful outdoors, two chalk plots, Serra d’Aire and Serra dos Candeeiros, rise to the west. These are protected by a natural park where you can venture out to explore underground caves and footprints left by giant dinosaurs.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Torres Novas:

1. New Torres Castle

Torres Novas Castle

An outstanding monument in every sense, the new Torres Castle is a symbol of the town’s political and strategic value during the medieval period.

It was proposed by the Moors at 1100 square meters, and once it was safely in Christian hands, it became part of the Linha do Tejo Line of Defense (Linha do Tejo). This is a system of castles on the horizon protecting the right bank of the Tagus River.

While walking from Praça 5 de Outubro, there is a tiled panel depicting the 10-day siege of 1190 that ended Moorish control.

Essentially a shell, the structure has a huge outer curtain and has 11 towers that can be used to enjoy panoramic views of Ribatejo.

In the middle is a peaceful garden with less than 100 years old cypresses and pines from the 14th century little warden.

2. Municipal Carlos Reis Museum

Municipal Carlos Reis Museum

Torres Novas has a collection of more than 30 works by Carlos Reis.

These are in the city museum, matching pastoral scenes with portraits of rural people.

Next to his paintings hang works by other esteemed Portuguese artists, such as José Malhoya, who worked almost simultaneously and were also inspired by pastoral themes.

Fine art is only a quarter of the exhibition: you can also take a closer look at ceremonial treasures and Roman archaeology from local excavations.

In the ethnographic gallery, antique farm implements, musical instruments and costumes bring to life the scenes depicted by Reis and Malhoya.

3. The Roman ruins of Villa Cadillo

Roman ruins of Villa Cadillo

When the palatial villa was first excavated in 1962, a surprising amount of artefacts were found, ranging from various bronzes to coins, ceramics, jewellery and glassware from as far away as Egypt and Assyria.

Most of these end up in the Carlos Reis Municipal Museum.

Investigate the site and you will find intricate mosaics on the floor with intricate geometric patterns.

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The villa is centered on the classic colonnade, an open courtyard with a colonnade, 20 meters long, with the lower parts of the columns still in place.

There is also an exedra (porch) with opus signinum (broken tiles), while you can also see the remains of the baths, the hot and cold zones are clearly delineated.

4. Igreja da Misericórdia de Torres Novas

Igreja da Misericóndia de Torres

The most splendid religious monument in town, the church was built in the mid-1500s, with progressive additions of decoration and fittings over the next 200 years.

To enter, you must climb a baroque staircase that takes you to an ornate late-Renaissance portal with columns and pediments.

Inside, every angle is dazzling, from the expertly carved coffered ceilings of the 1500s to the glazed panels that cover every inch of the walls from the 1600s.

Look for a nativity scene sculpted by famous 18th-century sculptor Joaquim Machado de Castro.

5. Praça 5 de Outubro

Praça 5 De Outubro

Torres Novas may be unremarkable, but it will feel like a city in this impressive central square.

The southern edge of Praça 5 de Outubro is lined with cafés whose terraces offer postcard views of the castle.

The tourist office is also here, as are several hotels housed in exquisite four-story mansions.

Given the square’s large proportions and central location, it hosts most of the town’s public celebrations.

Come in early June and you can take part in Memórias da História, a medieval fair with markets, craft workshops and reenactments relying on a large number of volunteers.

6. Grutas de Lapas

Grutas Drapas

Beneath the village of La Paz, 2 kilometers from Nuevo Torres, lies a spectacular labyrinth of tunnels hewn from soft tuff.

Exactly who dug these tunnels, and for what purpose, remains a mystery. Theories vary, from Neolithic tribes seeking refuge, to Christians seeking refuge in Roman times or Moors seeking defense and storage.

They could also just be a medieval building material mine, as most of the houses in La Paz were built from the same tuff.

Either way, you can come and explore; all you have to do is the doorman knocking on the door to let you in.

7. Moinhos da Pena

moinhos da pena

In a very idyllic scene, a row of 12 small windmills is attached to a ridge in the village of Assentis.

The history of these mills is anyone’s guess, but it is known that they were still grinding flour until 1965. In 1992, seven of them were restored to working order and reopened as museums.

This is a place to consider the countryside and examine the interiors of these buildings that are still grinding flour.

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The site also has a snack bar, all the invitations you need to spend some time in this unforgettable setting.

8. Museu Nacional Ferroviário

Museu Nacional Ferroviário

Next to Torres Novas, Entroncamento is a railway town built at a junction of the Portuguese railway network in the 19th century.

There’s no better home than the Portuguese National Railway Museum, which delves into 160 years of rail travel in the country.

Steam locomotives and diesel locomotives are the highlight, and you can board luxurious royal and presidential carriages.

The rolling stock is complemented by approximately 36,000 items such as signaling equipment, antique box office accessories, posters, textiles, kitchen utensils and more.

9. Parque Natural das Serras d’Aire e Candeeiros

Parque Natural Das Serras D'Aire E Candeeiros

The west side of Torres Novas overlaps a natural park that protects two chalk ranges.

On the ground, fresh air and exercise are intended for a distinct majesty in a landscape with few trees.

There are 16 trails to choose from, one of which, the Rota das Minas da Bezerra, will take you into a mining area that has been abandoned for more than half a century.

A lot is happening below the park’s surface, with soft rock hollowed out by underground rivers.

There are caves to visit, such as the Mira de Aire cave, 15 km from Torres de Nuovo, full of bizarre nodules.

10. Dinosaur Natural Monument

Natural monuments of Ouren-Torres Novas

The eastern corner of the Serras de Aire e Candeeiros Natural Park, just minutes from Torres Nuevo, are the mid-Jurassic footprints left by sauropods some 175 million years ago.

These herbivores are among the largest creatures ever to walk on Earth, weighing 70 tons and reaching a length of 30 meters.

The imprints are one meter in diameter and were found by chance in a quarry.

It is now preserved as a 20-hectare park where you can track the footsteps of a dinosaur nearly 150 meters away and find 20 footprints as you walk.

You can learn the background of this unique place with an introductory video, while guided tours are available upon request.

11. Reserva Natural do Paul do Boquilobo

Reserva Natural Do Paul Do Boquilobo

Where the Almonda River flows into the Tagus River, the wetlands cover more than 520 hectares.

The charm of this space lies in its birds, which change with the seasons and are plentiful with waders and waterfowl.

Come for a walk around mid-July and the exhilarating spectacle of thousands of herons will greet you.

Then in November and February, large flocks of ducks and geese stop on their Pangaea migrations.

At all times, the reserve is a soothing environment to stroll through, with willow trees and sugar cane fields along the banks of the Almonda River.

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12. Gorego

Feira Nacional Do Cavalo

A stone’s throw from Torres Novas is Portugal’s “horse capital” Golegã. Every November, this small community by the Tagus River is the stage for the Feira Nacional do Cavalo (National Horse Show), an event dating back to 1571. Golegã has always prided itself on being the most prestigious horse farm in Portugal, growing the legendary Lusitano horses.

For ten days, a lively schedule of equestrian competitions and art shows celebrates this legacy.

Golegan felt a bit like a western town at the time, with people donning traditional harnesses and parking their horses outside shops and restaurants.

13. Tomar

Tomar

Tomar is a Templar town built on lands granted to the Knights after the reconquest of the region from the Moors in the 12th century.

On a high hill is the monastery of Christ, at its center is a circular Romanesque church based on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

In the monastery and the fortifications that protect it, there are rich architectural decorations, such as the iconic 16th-century Manuel windows and four marvellous cloisters in the synagogue.

In the distance is the town, which was drawn from scratch on a grid system in the 1110s, using sacred geometry to determine the distance between the church and the monastery.

14. Museu Agrícola de Riachos

Museu Agrícola De Riachos

When industry arrived in Ribatjo in the 19th century, a way of life that had remained unchanged for hundreds of years disappeared overnight.

This ethnographic museum in the local village of Riachos houses a large collection of farm implements in a typical farmhouse with a winery and barn.

There are old handicrafts, old wooden carts, an original wine press, a copper still and a collection of sickles and hoes.

But the best display is a beautiful steam tractor from the early 1900s.

15. Food and drink

mozzarella rice

Ribatejo cuisine is unpretentious, satisfying, and locally sourced.

If you want to get authentic, order a morcela (blood sausage) rice followed by baby goat, either roasted with garlic or slow-cooked in a clay pot with bacon (à Moda da Serra). Eel is abundant in the Tagus River and is fried, grilled or stewed in restaurants in Nuevo Torres.

As for wine, you are in the versatile Ribatejo DOC region, and the wine can be white, red, rosé, sparkling or dessert.

There are two estates, Quinta do Vale Pequeno and Quinta de S. João Batista, which are delighted to give you an inside look at the production.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Torres Novas, Portugal
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