Santo Tirso grew around the former monastery of São Bento, founded by the Benedictines in the 8th century, later rebuilt and then modified in the 17th century.
The monastery is now an agricultural college and also lodges de Abade Pedrosa Museum, exhibiting local archaeological findings such as stone axes and ceramics.
Santo Tirso lies beside the river Ave and the bucolic charm of its river banks, woods and gardens, characterized by a generous vegetation, still remains but is somewhat deceiving as it is also nowadays a major textile centre.
Situated in the valley of the River Ave, this town first developed around the monastery of São Bento, founded in the tenth century, which was also known as Santo Tirso de Riba de Ave. The regions largest religious festival is held here every July in honour of São Bento (St. Benedict). Close by is the spa of Caldas da Saúde, which is not only equipped with all the facilities necessary for thermal cures, but also has a curious exhibition of the instruments most commonly used in spa treatments at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Of particular interest in the surrounding area is the Romanesque church of Roriz (whose origin dates back to the eighth century) and Citânia de Sanfins de Ferreira, an old pre-Roman settlement that was probably inhabited as long ago as the sixth century BC.
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