Aljustrel and Ourem Castle are the other two places that we would recommend visiting to complete your pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. Both places are a short drive away from Fatima. They provide a glimpse of the life of the three children at home, and when kept captive by the authorities after the apparition.
Aljustrel – Original Home of the Three Fatima Children
Aljustrel is a laid back town just 10 mins drive from the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. Here, the original homes of Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, the three children who witnessed the apparition of the Virgin Mary, had remained mostly intact.
Aljustrel is a pretty dry and sandy small town with little vegetation. It was considered warm even in November. On arriving the town, drive all the way to the back (passing the homes of the children and the few shops) and there is a big open space for parking.
The 5 mins walk from the parking area to the homes took longer than expected for us. We were too attracted to the shops which sell mostly handmade products at irresistible prices. For the same item, it was selling at a fraction of the prices in the city. We were especially drawn to the gorgeous handmade tablecloths. The colours, designs, quality and prices were just too good to give them a miss.
Right after the shops is the home of Lucia.
There is the original kitchen, bedroom of Lucia and the family’s barnyard where real sheep are kept.
Next to Lucia’s house is the home of Jacinta and her brother Francisco.
It was in this bedroom that Francisco died in 1919.
Hungarian Station of the Cross
Back to where we parked our car, there is a quiet garden nearby famous for its Hungarian Station of the Cross. We followed the 14 chapels dotting the 3 km stone walkway which led us to a marble monument of Christ on the cross.
From here, we made our way to the Castle of Ourem, a deserted castle 11 km away. It is in this castle where Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco were jailed for a short period of time by the authorities, in the bid to force them to reveal the secret of the apparition.
The drive to Ourem Castle was lovely where we drove through a small town and finally up a narrow winding road to reach it. After passing through the town, the signage pointing to the castle is not very clear. And at one point along the winding road, you will need to close your side mirrors in order to pass through.
The abandoned castle was in ruin and there was no trace left of the three children. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the place for it’s tranquility and the scenic view of the surrounding.