Fátima, in the past an isolated city, nowadays is one of the most important destinations in the world for Catholic pilgrims. Currently the city is still relatively empty, except on the 12th and 13th days of each month from May to October, when many pilgrimages paralyze the city and surroundings.
The city has everything pilgrims many need, being an attraction as few other in the world. Visiting it can enrich you with the religious culture of the country.
Those pilgrimages have much to do with the appearance of the Virgin in repeated occasions, according to the Catholic Church, to three children, always the 13th of the months May to October in 1971. If you want to know more details about the appearances it is recommendable visiting the Fátima 1917 Museum - Appearances.
Independently of the religious value that it obviously has for the believers, it is hard not to be impressed by the big amount of people that lead every year to bring together more than 6 millions of persons to the forest clearing where it is said that the Virgin appeared, a place where sheep crossed in the past, and that today gives shelter to the Fátima Sanctuary, with two huge temples that are set in an esplanade of 1 km long, one of which is the Basilica of our Lady of Rosario, erected in 1953 and topped with a crown and a golden cross, with the Capela das Aparições; while the other one is the Santíssima Trindade Church, open in 2007.
The Fátima Sanctuary is the biggest Catholic sanctuary of all Portugal and one of the most venerated in the world.
The focus of the pilgrims, known as Cova da Iria, is placed to East of the A1.
The city is full of restaurants and hostels thought for pilgrims, and the shop windows are displayed full of statues of the Virgin and busts of the Pope.
Very near Fátima is the village of Aljustrel, where you can see the houses where the children of the appearances lived: Francisco, Lucía and Jacinta, the last one with the well where the angel appeared in 1917.
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