Óbidos, Portugal

Be surprised by the walled historical centre of the town of Óbidos on your holidays in Portugal.

Óbidos, Portugal
Óbidos © Celestino Manuel

Óbidos boasts an amazing historical centre, surrounded by a classic battlemented wall, formed by a maze of stone paved streets, and pleasingly whitewashed houses adorned with flowers and bright spots of yellow and blue painting.

Ruas de Óbidos
Ruas de Óbidos © CM Óbidos
Centro Medieval, Óbidos, Portugal
Medieval Center © Celestino Manuel

This charming town achieves its greatest splendor throughout the afternoon, but there are many reasons to also spend a night here, since it is home to a great atmosphere in its medieval bars, and a vast castle sitting atop a cliff that has been turned into one of Portugal’s most luxurious pousadas, hostels.

To walk in the maze of ancient streets and whitewashed homes is an incredible experience year round, although it may be better to visit Óbidos during some of the many festivals it hosts.

Óbidos turns out to be an amazing backdrop to watch the recreation of a just, or climb its castle’s walls during the cheerful Feira Medieval, (medieval fair), which offer an interesting medieval market during July, tasty cuisine, and free admission (otherwise 7€) for those who attend dressed up in medieval costumes. This pintoresque village also becomes an ideal place for chocolate lovers during the Feira Internacional do Chocolate (International Chocolate Fair), which lasts for twelve days in early March. It is even an amazing place for listening to the next Pavarotti in the Festival de Opera (Opera Festival), during August, celebrating open-air shows next to the castle and the great lagoon northeast of the village. During Semana Santa (easter week), religious reconstructions and processions do take place.

As soon as Óbidos was reconquered from the Arabs by the kind Alfonso Enríquez in 1148, it underwent great rebuilding. Its walls were fortified, towers rebuilt, and the beautiful whitewashed homes repaired. The city was charming when visited by king D. Dinis and his young wife, Isabel of Aragon; to the extent that, during engagement ceremony, the Queen was gifted the city, setting a custom whereby the Queen would be gifter Óbidos, which lasted up to 1833.

If you are searching for a more bucolic experience, you will find it by arriving to the train station 2 kilometers to the west, to climb sinuous trails until you reach the East door, crossing a wild landscape so suitable for the medieval essence of Óbidos. This is part of the route known as EcoVia da Várzea da Rainha, which can be covered walking or by bike, with a total length of 14,800 meter and links the train station with the Praia del Bom Sucesso Beach.

The main entrance to the village is the Porta da Vila, a double gate with the interior lined with XVIII century tiles, directly moving towards the Rua Direita, main street, somehow narrow and with a flagstone paved ditch in the middle, a series of white houses on the sides, decorated with geraniums and bougainvillea, mainly housing by craft stores, restaurants, and art galleries.

Walking around the walls will be a pleasant experience, offering excellent views of the area.

Walking around its charming streets, you will meet face-to-face with the heritage of past civilizations. From the corners and interior gardens of the old Media, to the presence of Gothic style, as well as renaissance and baroque, this village is truly an artwork admirably sculpted, rebuilt for centuries and excellently preserved.

This ancient presence and the varied current cultural programming make Óbidos one of Portugal’s most interesting touristic destinations, being considered one of the seven wonders of Portugal.

Some of the musts in the area are the sumptuous Castelo, the medieval walls surrounding the historical city centre, the vast Igreja de Santa María Church, in a visigothic style, the Rua Direita and Igreja de Santiago Church, almost colonial in appearance. Other places worth visiting are the Porta da Vila, the Aqueduct, financed by Queen Catherine of Austria in the XVI century; the Interior Design Centre, the Casa da Música auditorium, the monument to Pilar Camoneano, erected to homage Camões and designed by Raúl Lino in 1932; the Capela de São Martinho Shrine, the Igreja de San Pedro Church, the Igreja da Misericordia Church, the Museu Abílio de Mattos e Silva, located in the Casa do Arco (former prison), the Museu Municipal, Picota, the Casa da Picota, the Gallery Novaogiva, the former market of Alpende, the Parque Cinegético, the Capela de Nossa Senhora do Carmo Shrine, the Porta de Nossa Senhora da Graça, or the Capela of Nossa Senhora de Monserrate Shrine.

In the surrounding area you shouldn’t miss the Santuario do Senhor Jesus da Pedra Sanctuary, an interesting baroque temple with circular floor, and the Lagoa (lagoon).

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