The Feira de São Mateus event in Viseu has endeavored to display Portuguese culture, tradition and lifestyle since medieval times, and this year may be its 624th year of maintaining these aims! This year, the festival began on the 5th of August, and seeks to continue to run through until the 10th of September, with various concerts taking place throughout the time span from artists such as D.A.M.A, GNR and Capicua. In addition to these musical enterprises, the event also aims to provide guests with the chance to participate in activities such as handicraft and dancing as well as gastronomical experiences and exhibits.
The history of the fair seems to be as effervescent as the festival aspires to be today, having been created by King John I in January of 1382 as a dedication to Saint Matthew. Through the years, the festival has evolved, taken short breaks, and developed into the festival it is today – now, it endeavors to host almost 1 million visitors across 38 days, and aims to supply these guests with multiple ranges and authenticity through the exposure of the 290 exhibitors, musicians, food and activities whilst encouraging a strong relationship between history, tradition and modern media.
The location of Viseu near to Lisbon may provide further reasons for travellers to attend the Feira de São Mateus, as the city lies a short coach or train ride away from the capital and largest city of Portugal. Lisbon may itself be considered a hot-spot of culture and travel opportunities which vary from architectural sights and historical experiences to entertainment. One way to experience Lisbon may be through a leisurely ride on the number 28 trams, which have been an integral part of the public transport in the city since their installment in the 1930s. Whilst on the route, which is the longest tram line in Lisbon and departs every 11 minutes, passengers may pass through many of Lisbon’s districts, such as Baixa, Alfama and Estrala for only €2.85.
If travellers choose to hop on and off of the 28, they may choose to visit the aforementioned districts in order to experience the city’s streets on foot. Whilst in Baixa, tourists may see many of the city’s 18th century architecture or the various plazas scattered throughout the region, or visit the Arco da Rua Augusta, from where they may view an aerial view of the district. Alternatively, they may depart the tramline at Alfama, the oldest district of Lisbon, whose narrow streets house buildings such as the Se Cathedral and Lisbon Castle. Other sights which may be of interest to tourists might include the Torre de Belem (Belem Tower), the Elevador de Santa Justa (Santa Justa Lift) or the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge; which was designed by the same consortium who constructed the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge. If relaxation and leisure is more so appealing to travellers, then Lisbon’s vast selection of beaches may be accessible by a short train line along the Estoril coastline, which begins in the capital and ends in Cascais.
With the yearly occurrence of Viseu’s Feira de São Mateus, travellers may have reasons and opportunities to visit several of Portugal’s unique coastal cities and towns, which all lie within a few hours of travelling of each other. This opportunity may also come with the added benefit of seeing and experiencing Portuguese society through the ages, as both Lisbon and Viseu seem to be locations highly oriented around cultural and historical aspects.