Santa Catarina (Caldas da Rainha)

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Santa Catarina
coat of arms map
The coat of arms is still missing
Santa Catarina (Portugal)
Santa Catarina
Basic data
Region : Centro
Sub-region : Oeste
District : Leiria
Concelho : Caldas da Rainha
Coordinates : 39 ° 27 ′  N , 9 ° 1 ′  W Coordinates: 39 ° 27 ′  N , 9 ° 1 ′  W
Residents: 3029 (as of June 30, 2011)
Surface: 19.98 km² (as of January 1, 2010)
Population density : 152 inhabitants per km²
Santa Catarina Church

Santa Catarina is a small Portuguese town ( Vila ) in the Caldas da Rainha district in the Oeste sub-region in the historic Estremadura province . It has an area of ​​20 km² and 3029 inhabitants (as of June 30, 2011). The municipality is 16 km from Caldas da Rainha and 14 km from Alcobaça , to whose district it borders. The community consists of 20 other localities and hamlets. It belonged to one of the 13 cities in the Couto de Alcobaça to the secular dominion of the Abbey of Alcobaça , which in 1153 the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques (1109-1185), the abbot of the French Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux , Bernard of Clairvaux had given, one about 500 km² between the Atlantic and the Serra dos Candeeiros mountains . Until the abbey was dissolved in 1834, Santa Catarina also included the neighboring community of Carvalhal Benfeito with an area of ​​14.08 km², so that the former city was 34.02 km². In 1801 the city still had 1210 inhabitants. The name of the city goes back to Catarina of Alexandria , who is said to have been martyred under Emperor Maximianus at the end of the 3rd or beginning of the 4th century .

Early days

There are signs of early settlement as early as the Iron Age . Above the community, on a mountain at a height of 230 m, there are still the remains of early Celtic fortifications, as were other traces of Celtic settlement in the community area. The fortifications were already built around 590 BC. Used during Celtic wars on the Iberian Peninsula. As a result of the between 155 and 138 BC During the Lusitanian War (also known as the Spanish War ), in which the Ibero-Celtic population of this part of the Iberian Peninsula , the Lusitans , defended themselves against Roman rule, the fortifications were built by the Romans between 138 and 136 v. Chr. Destroyed. There are no traces from the time of the Moorish occupation (711 to approx. 1143).

New settlement by the Alcobaça Abbey

It is believed that Santa Catarina got the name in connection with the repopulation by the monks of the Abbey of Alcobaça. Catherine of Alexandria was a very popular saint, especially in the Middle Ages. After taking over the area given to them by the Portuguese king in 1153, the monks had begun to agriculturally recultivate the region , which had been badly affected by the Reconquista . They already owned two farms in the Santa Catarina region. With a settlement letter ( Carta de Povoamente ) dated February 4, 1307, they allowed a total of 31 settlers with their families to settle in the area between the Meierhöfe and to cultivate the land for the abbey. According to this letter, the settlers were given the land for their own cultivation after a period of six years, but the settlers remained tributary to the abbey. They had to respect the boundaries of the monastic Meirhöfe, just as all wine-growing areas were closed to them. As early as 1333, Santa Catarina received the charter from the abbey, which became the basis for urban development. In the 14th and 15th centuries, due to its favorable location on a road that led to Santarém , the city flourished as one of the abbey's centers for agricultural production and exploitation.

Structural development of the city

Shame of 1518
Altar in the Santa Catarina Church
Casa Nobre, 16th century

As part of the general city reform that King Manuel I (1469-1521) carried out, Santa Catarina also received a new city statute in 1518, which was due to its self-government and a lower jurisdiction. The obligation to pay tribute to the abbey and its general jurisdiction remained unaffected. As in all cities of the Coutos de Alcobaça, a stake of shame , the Pelourinho (Portuguese for poor sinners column) , which is still preserved today, was erected to mark them . The stake was redesigned in the 17th or 18th century. He stands in front of the church of the city patroness Santa Catarina. The church goes back to a building from the 16th century, presumably a church or chapel from the early days of the monastic rule stood there. The church was destroyed several times, probably also in the earthquake of 1755 (which went down in history under the name of the Lisbon earthquake ) and today only contains components from earlier times, such as the tower and those from the 17th and 18th centuries. A large altar from the 18th century, the elaborate goldwork of which is evidence of the city's former wealth. One of the city buildings from the 16th century is still preserved, the Casa Nobre. A large coat of arms is emblazoned above the entrance, and a sundial from that time is still in one corner. It is reported that the city of Santa Catarina provided the abbey with two companies of soldiers and law enforcement officers, each 300 men strong.

Modern times and the present

With the closure of the monasteries in Portugal, ordered by the state in 1834, the rule of the abbey in the Coutos was also ended. The municipality of Carvalhal Benfeito separated from Santa Catarina and joined the district of Caldas da Rainha. Santa Catarina lost its town charter and became part of the Alcobaça district, but eventually became part of the Caldas da Rainha district in 1898. In 1991 it again received city rights as a vila. Santa Catarina had never lost its small town character and is now home to a lively economy consisting of trade and production, among other things, of household goods (especially knives), furnishings and stone works, in addition to agriculture, wine and fruit growing and cattle breeding.


  • Maria Zulmira Albuquerque Furtado Marques: Por Terras dos Antigos Coutos de Alcobaça. Alcobaça 1994, pp. 100-106.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. - indicator resident population by place of residence and sex; Decennial in the database of the Instituto Nacional de Estatística
  2. Overview of code assignments from Freguesias on
  3. ^ História de Portugal, editor: José Mattoso, volume. 1: Antes de Portugal , Lisbon 1993, Editorial Estampa. ISBN 972-33-0920-3 , pp. 217-218
  4. Pelourinho de Santa Catarina. In: Pesquisa Geral - Pesquisa do Patrimonio. Direção Geral do Património Cultural , accessed March 23, 2018 (Portuguese).
  5. Maria Zulmira Albuquerque Furtado Marques: Por Terras dos Antigos Coutos de Alcobaça , Alcobaça 1994, p. 100