Fatima is a religious center and its attractions are mainly centered around the Catholic religion as well. It is a town that grew fame on the back of visions of three shepherd children to whom 3 secrets of mankind were revealed. These secrets were considered prophecies regarding major world events such as World War II, rise and fall of communism and the assassination attempt on the Pope. The story of the visions adds an intriguing layer or mystique and engenders a feeling that says miracles can happen. If you are seeking the Lord’s forgiveness or a cure to an illness, and faith is your refuge, then this place is for you. Fatima also has an abundance of sites to see, nature trails, caves, castles and the like. It makes for a multifaceted tourist spot.
Here's the list of places to visit & 15 best things to do in Fatima:
1. Sanctuary of Fatima
More than 4 million pilgrims come by every year to the sanctuary, either on festive occasions or on days of the apparitions, between May and October. The main square of the sanctuary is larger than that of St. Peter’s in the Vatican and can hold a congregation of thousands. Several devotees still come by foot or on their knees or in processions carrying statues of Our Lady and waving kerchiefs. the Basilica towers over the immense square with its 65 meters high tower and golden crown. It houses the tombs of all three shepherd children and depicts a painting of Our Lady passing on the knowledge to the children. The 15 mysteries of the rosary are portrayed in 15 other altars around.
2. Basilica De Nossa Senhora Do Rosario
This church is built on the spot where the children are said to have seen the visions, which they had initially mistaken for a thunderstorm. Constructed a decade after the visions, it features a more neo-baroque architecture. The portico at the entry shows the Holy Trinity crowning Mary. This mosaic was built at the Vatican.
3. Capela Das Aparicoes
This chapel was the very first place of worship built in Fatima after the visions of the children. it was completed 2 years after the sightings and is said to have been constructed in answer to a request made to the children by Mary. The statue of Our Lady stands at the exact spot where Mary was said to have been seen, near the old Holm tree.
4. Basilica of the Holy Trinity
By the 20th century, Fatima’s fame had exploded and visitors were arriving to the city in droves. A need for a larger basilica had been felt, and the Basilica of the Holy Trinity was completed in 2000. The Basilica features a more modern architecture with sweeping spaces and a minimalistic sense of design. It has magnificent works of liturgical art, a great big bronze door designed by a Portuguese artist, Pedro Calapez, and a statue of Our Lady, shaped from Carrara marble, among its most notable works of art.
5. Grutas Da Moeda
These are underground caves that were accidentally discovered by hunters chasing a fox down a hole. The unearthly appearance and feel of the caves holds much intrigue. There are 10 individual chambers or halls, carved out of calcareous rock shaped over thousands of years by running water. These chambers have been assigned religious names in honor of Fatima. The center at the facility offers a history and geography background into the caves and displays some fossils and minerals found here.
6. Casa Jacinta E Francisco Marto
This is the home of the children who saw the visions, Jacinta and Francisco Marto. You can drive, catch the train or even walk down from Fatima to this village about a kilometer away. Irrespective of religious orientation, the humble abode offers an insight into the local lifestyle from the period and a special feeling of being in the home of two young saints with difficult and short lives. Both died of a flu epidemic, 2 to 3 years after the sightings.
7. Casa De Lucia
This is the house of the third shepherd child, Lucia, cousin of Jacinta and Francisco. She survived the flu epidemic unlike the other two and went on to become a nun. She died at the age of 97 in 2005. She is in the process of being announced a saint by the Pope.
8. Valinhos Sanctuary
The route taken by the children from their village to the spot where they had the sightings had been converted into a via sacra in late 20th century. The path passed through holm and olive groves with 14 halts, for each station of the cross. The 15th stop is the Chapel, Santo Estevao Chapel, which represents the resurrection.
9. Museu De Cera
The museum of wax displays the phenomenon of Fatima in 31 lifelike scenes made of wax figurines. It is beautifully done and explains the history of the town in a colorful, informative manner, historical context and cultural impact intact.
10. Igreja Paroquial De Fatima
This parish church was built in the 15th century, long before the visions. It is a relic with a discreet renaissance style, despite the many renovations. There is a large cemetery in the front which is where Jacinta and Francisco had also been buried before being moved to the Basilica de Nossa Senhora do Rosario.
11. Museu Vida De Cristo
It is a one of its kind museum in the world. It depicts the life of Christ, from his annunciation before his birth to his ascension after his resurrection, through over 200 was figurines arranged in about 33 tableaux. Both the architecture and the attention to detail in the making of the figurines are noteworthy and worth a watch.
Ourem is a charming old town about 10 kilometers away from Fatima. It features a castle on a hilltop built at a steep gradient, hundreds of meters above sea level. Wear sensible shoes and prepare to have them knocked off by the sensational views from the castle. You can explore the alleys and stairways around the Old Quarter and admire the extravagant abodes of the Counts.
13. Serra De Aire Nature Park
The Serra de Aire range to the South of Fatima is a nature park with trails that pass between chalk valleys and discarded mines. There is also a cave system underground that you can explore, Mira de Aire caves.
14. Monastery at Batalha
Or visit a UNESCO listed medieval monastery at Batalha. The stonework is amazing and calls for deep and intense study. The site also has an unfinished chapel and the tombs of the pioneers of the Portuguese Age of Discovery.
15. Monument Natural Das Pegadas De Dinossaurio De Ourem-Torres Novas
Fatima neighbors the top paleontological site in Portugal. The largest Sauropod footprints were recorded here. Sauropods were the biggest creatures said to have walked the planet, with long tails and massive bodies and small heads. Their tracks are estimated to be about 175 million years old are set in limestone that used to be overrun by a muddy lagoon.
This religious town has much more to offer beyond its religious offerings, from the peeks into Jurassic history to ethereal charms of underwater caves and the relaxation of nature trails. It also serves some delicious foods, recipes predating even the visions.