Celtic tribes built the first settlements in the area in the Iron Age, which later became a trading centre for the Phoenicians. Archaeological digs close to Óbidos have unearthed remains of the Roman city of Eburobrittium as described by Pliny the Elder. The remains of a forum, baths and other Roman structures date from the 1st century BC to the second half of the 5th century AD. Eburobrittium sat at the foot of the hill but abandoned by the Visigoths, who resettled to higher ground. A tactic the Arabs emulated after their invasion in 713, although details of this period remain hazy.
The troops of Alphonso Henriques arrived in 1148. His captain, Gonçalo Mendes da Maia, successfully stormed the Moorish castle. The retaking of Óbidos followed the liberation of Santarém, Lisbon and Torres Vedras, thus completing the conquest of the Estremadura region.
King Dinis gave the town to his wife Queen Isabel on their wedding day in 1282 and started a tradition where the Óbidos was part of the Queen's patrimony. Óbidos was known as "the town of the Queens" until 1834. Many royal consorts visited or stayed in Óbidos and regularly contributed funds to the settlement. Queen Catherine commissioned the town's aqueduct and a fountain system during her stay. The 1755 earthquake caused extensive damage to the town's walls, churches and many of the oldest buildings. The result is the loss of much of the Arabesque and Medieval nature of the Óbidos.
Porta da Vila is a double-gated portal and the main entrance through the town walls. In between the two doorways is an ornately painted ceiling recently restored. This representation of Christ's crown of thorns is as vibrant as ever. Here also is the inscription "The Virgin, Our Lady; conceived without original sin" (A Virgem Nossa Senhora foi concebida sem pecado original). The Virgin Mary is the patron of the town. Her Chapel Nossa Senhora da Piedade is located between the gates has a balcony covered with 18th-century azulejo tiles representing the Passion of Christ.
These gates lead into the Rua Direita, the town's main street. Before 1380, the Southern Gate of Nossa Senhora da Graça was the main entrance. If you arrive by coach, chances are the Porta da Villa will be the first thing you'll encounter in Óbidos.
Rua Josefa de Óbidos 2, 2510-001 Óbidos, Portugal | 38º 31' 21.3" N | 08º 59' 01.2" W
Once through the Porta da Vila, the town's main artery awaits. Although no wider than two abreast, the Rua Direita has been the main thoroughfare through ancient Óbidos since the 14th century. The route has meandered over the centuries. Original Gothic portals have been discovered in the buildings that line the street. It's along this street you'll find many of Óbidos's most interesting shops, restaurants, and the route to the castle.
Follow the Rua Direita past the town hall to the main square Praça de Santa Maria that contains the town's 15th-century granite Pelourinho (pillory). Emblazoned on the pillory is the coat of arms of Queen Leonor of Lencastre and a fisherman's net in honour of her son. On the reverse side is the royal heraldic stamp.
The Usseira Aqueduct, also referred to as the Óbidos Aqueduct. It was built in the 16th century at the behest of Queen Catarina in exchange for the "Várzea da Rainha" (fertile land outside the castle walls). Impossible to miss south of the walls, the aqueduct originates in Usseira and carries water for almost four miles. After two miles of flowing underground, it ascends to traverse several tall arches, crossing vineyards and orchards. The aqueduct feeds the town's fountains, such as the fountain in the Praça de Santa Maria.
On the Praça de Santa Maria is the parish church of the same name, built on a plot that has been sacred since antiquity. The Visigoths built the first church here before becoming a mosque during the Moorish occupation. After the reconquest of Óbidos in 1148, it changed its denomination again. The church we see here today mostly dates back to the 16th century. Queen Leonor orchestrated the rebuilding of the Gothic church. The church's bell tower was added during this reconstruction.
Stepping through the mannerist portal, you will discover an interior entirely faced with azulejo tiles dating from around 1680-1690. Three naves are topped with a painted wooden ceiling dating from 1676. Behind the altar, one can find the retable painted by João da Costa in 1620-1622. The church also contains the tomb of João de Noronha and his wife Isabel de Sousa, the castle governor who died in 1575, Portugal's first piece of Renaissance art and now a national monument.
Wherever you go in Óbidos, you can't help notice this local cherry liquor. It's sold in most shops, cafés and bars. It is popular throughout Portugal, yet Óbidos is its "spiritual" home and well worth a try when visiting. Ancient immigrants arriving in the area to work in the gypsum mines brought the tradition of ending a meal with a liqueur and soon took advantage of the local sour cherry. Today, the liquor has developed into a fine delicacy. It has a fruity aroma and a complex sweet flavour. It has gained an EU geographical indication. Recently, the tradition of serving Ginja in dark chocolate cups has developed. This perfect pairing is reflected in the town's cakes and confectionery.
For a more in-depth and immersive experience of Ginja production, why not visit a famous family ran and reputable producer - Ginja Mariquinhas. Learn about where the fruit is grown, maceration techniques, bottling and labelling before enjoying a tasting session and the opportunity to buy from the shop. By appointment only:
Zona Industrial Talhos Novos, Rua Sol Nascente, Fração A e B, Lote 6, Ponte Seca, 2510 - 701 Gaeiras, Óbidos, Portugal. N 39º 22' 13.1" | W 09º 06' 15.3"
+351 262 601 544 | email@example.com | Website
A short distance northeast of Óbidos lies the 18th-century church, Santuario do Senhor Jesus da Pedra. It is baroque in style and has an unusual hexagonal floor plan. Captain Rodrigo Franco (of the Mitra Patriarchal designed it). King Joao commissioned the church V in memory of the accident from which he survived, by evoking Our Lord Jesus of the Stone. Construction took place between 1740 and 1747.
Taken from a nearby chapel, the Paleo-Christian cross on its altar dates back to the second or third century. There are three chapels inside; the chancel dedicated to the Calvary with a painting by André Gonçalves; the side chapels dedicated to Our Lady of Conception; and the Death of St. Joseph, with pictures by José da Costa Negreiros.
Largo do Santuário, 2510 Óbidos, Portugal.
39° 21' 23.00" N | 09° 09' 24.00" W
Portugal's largest lagoon system of roughly three square miles has an average depth of only two metres. In times past, the waters of the lagoon lapped up against the walls of Óbidos. After centuries of silting, the lagoon has retreated three miles west. Today the integrity of the lagoon is maintained by dredging and is utilised for water activities and sustaining a local fishing economy. The beach at Foz do Arelho belongs to the village and sits where the lagoon meets the sea. It has glorious golden sands and calm waters ideal for sunbathers, surfers, ankle dippers and families alike. The few cafés and restaurants line the seafront and are enough to service the needs of the moderate crowds who congregate here.
Formally known as Estremadura, the Lisboa wine region runs the height of western Portugal from Lisbon in the south to Leiria in the north. The Vinho Regional Lisboa incorporates nine demarcated regional wine styles, including the Óbidos DOC. The red wine is soft, open and slightly scented, whereas the white is fresh with fruity aromatic flavours. Cool and damp terroir is ideal for producing sparkling wines found here in abundance. Labels such as:
Quinta do Gradli
(visits Monday - Saturday: 11h30 - 15h30)
Quinta do Sanguinhal
(visits weekdays: 10h30 - 15h00)
and Quinta das Cerejeiras are well worth seeking out.
Since 1951 the Pousada de Óbidos is installed in the Medieval Castle of Óbido. The adaptation of the Castle into Pousada by architect John Philip Vaz Martins opened up a new concept of utilisation and the recovery of Portuguese Historical Buildings.
Paço Real 2510 - 999, Óbidos, Portugal.
N 39º 21' 47.31" | W 09º 09' 25.34"
Hand in hand with the village's tradition, a hotel was conceived where the rooms are named after the Kings related to the region's history. Each room is decorated and furnished individually, alluding to diverse ages of the region's history. The Hotel has 18 rooms (eight twins and ten doubles), grouped into three categories providing three different classes of lodging: Standard, Superior and Suite (with bedroom and sitting room equipped with sofa bed – two-child allowance). Each room is equipped with air-conditioned, cable TV, telephone, en-suite bathroom, coffee and mini-bar (by request).
Rua D. João de Ornelas 2510-074, Óbidos, Portugal.
N 39º 21' 37.5" | W 09º 09' 29.5"
Nestled inside the medieval walls of historic Óbidos, this beautiful guest house offers classical-style décor throughout and rooms with town views. It features a living room and a dining room with antique furnishings. The rooms include a cable TV, heating and a private bathroom with amenities. Casa de S. Thiago de Óbidos also has a living room with a TV and is decorated with sofa lounges, wooden furnishings, glass chandeliers and wooden-beamed ceilings. Guests can take a step back in time and enjoy a day of sightseeing through the historical city centre. Óbidos Castle is a five-minute walk away.
12 Rua do Facho, 2510-065 Óbidos, Portugal .
39° 21' 35.4" N | 09° 09' 29.1" W | +351 927 703 322
A short walk from the historic centre this friendly restaurant offers a wide choice of food and a good selection of quality wine. The food served is local cuisine and the cliental are a mix of locals and tourists.
Largo do Santuario, Caxinas, Senhor da Pedra, Obidos 2510-072, Portugal.
39º 21' 53.6" N | 09º 08' 59.5" W | +351 262 959 839
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Close to the town walls its welcoming ambiance displays a medieval décor, fine music and capacity for 50 people. The name took its inspiration from the novel "A Ilustre casa de Ramires" (published in English as The Noble House of Ramires), by Eça de Queiroz, one of Portugal's most celebrated writers. Friendly service and certain meals are cooked on a grill right before your eyes.
Daily: 10h00 - 23h00, Thursday: CLOSED
Rua Porta do Vale, 2510-084 Óbidos, Portugal.
39º 21' 40.49" N | 09º 09' 21.02" W | +351 262 959 194
Found within the old town walls this small yet unpretentious and authentic restaurant serves traditional Portuguese cuisine of the highest level but at reasonable prices. A friendly and family like atmosphere, food is cooked fresh and well prepared. An extensive wine list.
Rua Direita 60, 2510-001 Óbidos, Portugal.
39º 21' 48" N | 09º 09' 26.8" W | +351 262 959 220
80km (50 miles) North of Lisbon Portela Airport Website
GET A GREAT DEAL ON FLIGHTS:
80km (50 miles ) north of Lisbon along the A8 direct to Óbidos. From Santarém take the A15 east, and from Porto take the A1 south to Leiria, then the A8 directly to Óbidos.
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• Rodoviária do Tejo: Óbidos to/from Lisbon Website