Of all the destinations in Portugal, Fatima is perhaps the most unique. An important Catholic pilgrimage site, nestled in the heart of central Portugal, the town of Fatima is well-known as the location of a series of Marian Apparitions, or appearances of the Virgin Mary, over the course of the year 1917. Every year, up to 8 million pilgrims travel to Fatima to pay their respects to the Virgin Mary, making it a deeply spiritual and peaceful destination. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima is at the heart of the town, a huge and impressive religious complex home to two basilicas, a chapel built on the site of the apparitions and various religious monuments commemorating the events of 1917.
The story goes that an apparition of the Virgin Mary herself miraculously appeared to three shepherd children several times between May and October of 1917, culminating in an event known as the Miracle of the Sun, where thousands gathered to see the children’s premonition come true as the sun danced around the skies above Fatima on the 13th October 1917. Many eye-witness accounts and newspaper articles from this time tell the legend of this fateful day and it was these amazing events that transformed this rural town into such an important site of pilgrimage for followers of the Catholic faith.
Whether you are religious or simply curious, a trip to Fatima is a fascinating experience for all types of traveller. There are all kinds of shops selling religious souvenirs and there is a range of accommodation options, restaurants and cafes to serve the large number of visitors who visit Fatima every year. A day-trip to Fatima is a good choice for those on a tour of Portugal as it is situated just over an hours drive from the capital of Lisbon, and most of the sacred sites can be seen in just one day. The best time to visit Fatima is between May and October, as this is when many torch-lit processions and religious activities take place, an interesting spectacle, whether or not you are a believer. If you travel to Fatima be sure to dress respectfully due to the sacred nature of the town.
Most of the things to see in Fatima are conveniently located within the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima complex, a huge open space with room to accommodate thousands of pilgrims during religious festivals. The Basilica de Nossa Senhora do Rosario is at the heart of the sanctuary, an impressive church building, constructed in 1928 and home to the tombs of two of the visionaries that were visited by the Virgin Mary in 1917. This is a good place to begin a tour of Fatima, although if you’d rather brush up on the history of this sacred town, head to the Museu Interativo before exploring the sights as this museum provides a detailed history of the apparitions and miracles of Fatima.The second basilica is the Basilica da Santissima Trindade, a modern place of worship, built in 2007. This impressive structure can seat more than 8,000 worshippers and its sparse, modern interior is a must-see if you travel to Fatima.Any trip to Fatima must include a visit to the Capelinha das Aparicoes, the most important sight in the entire sanctuary. This is the chapel that the Virgin Mary instructed the children to build and just outside is the exact location where she made her first appearance. The spot is marked by an ornate sculpture of the Virgin Mary which is protected within a glass case. The religious significance of this chapel brings a peaceful and devout atmosphere, something all should experience if they make the pilgrimage to Fatima. Many visitors choose to light a candle, which can be purchased for a small fee, in order to honour the Virgin Mary, remember a loved one or set an intention.Finally, if you visit Fatima you might like to visit the Shepherd House’s, the homes of the children who experienced the apparitions. The humble abodes have been restored to how they were in 1917, giving visitors an insight into the lives of ordinary locals during the time of the apparitions and the Miracle of the Sun.
We can help you choose the best destination for your trip.