Land of Santa Maria
Welcome to the beating heart of Portuguese history: the Land of Santa Maria, a medieval region that emerged in the 9th century during the Christian reconquest of the Peninsula under the leadership of Afonso III of León. Designated as the “Motherland of Portugal,” this area was initially delineated between the Douro and Vouga rivers, stretching from the Paiva, Arouca, Cambra, and Sever do Vouga mountains in the west to the Atlantic Ocean.
In the early 12th century, disputes between the Bishops of Porto and Coimbra reduced the region to the south, absorbed by the diocese of Coimbra. However, the central core persisted, linked to the diocese of Porto, remaining administratively under the governance of Coimbra.
This central core, comprising territories present in 14 municipalities in the Aveiro District, became a vibrant economic stronghold. From the mountains to the plains, from the sea to pastoral activities, the Land of Santa Maria flourished in complementarity. Strategically located between Coimbra and Porto, its remarkable road network fueled dynamic trade.
Furthermore, the region stood out militarily, organizing itself to resist Arab incursions. While religious centers like the monasteries of Grijó and Pedroso enriched the cultural landscape, the hosting of major commercial fairs near the Castle solidified the name “Feira,” dating back to 1117.
This economic vitality, military strength, and independent cultural identity played a crucial role in the formation of the Portuguese nationality. The collective uprising culminated in the Battle of S. Mamede in 1128, serving as a vital link in the construction of the Kingdom of Portugal. As emphasized by Professor José Mattoso, the Land of Santa Maria is unquestionably the MOTHERLAND OF PORTUGAL.