Óbidos, One of Portugal's 7 Wonders
Story of a Medieval Town
According to the Outeiro da Assenta archaeological remains, humans have settled in Óbidos since at least the Lower Paleolithic period. Several million years and evolutionary leaps later, a Celtiberian castro (settlement) emerged. It would eventually become an important trading post for Phoenicians and later an important Roman military outpost. After the Islamic period came Afonso Henrique's conquest of the town in the 12th Century, followed by construction of the famous Óbidos Castle that is the local landmark. Ever since King Dinis offered the town as a wedding gift for his wife Isabel, Óbidos belonged to the Portuguese queens, right up until the 19th Century - this fact explains why so many architectural landmarks (such as the Aqueduct) were built. The 1755 earthquake and the Peninsular War in the early 19th century took their toll and led to renovations in the historic centre, but Óbidos has never lost its medieval town charm.
The town's historic centre is fully within the main local landmark: Óbidos Castle. It was built between the 12th and 14th Centuries and during that period it had major strategic and military relevance for Portugal, which was then an emerging nation. The long walls surrounding the village have an almost one mile (1.5 km) perimeter and can visited by foot, allowing visitors to enjoy a great view of the village and also the surrounding landscape. Other highlights include the castle towers, the old gateways and the cobbled streets with their regular design and traditional white houses.
A Glass of Ginja
Óbidos is located in the Lisbon district's Western agricultural region, roughly one hour's drive away from the Portuguese capital. This is the place where one of the tastiest Portuguese traditional drinks is produced: the famous Ginja de Óbidos.
The ginja an intensely flavoured liqueur that gets its name from the local sour cherries from which it is made. The making of this kind of drink can be traced back to ancient times — during the days of the Roman Empire, writer and philosopher Pliny the Elder was already singing the praises of local sour cherries. However, it is believed that the Ginja de Óbidos in its current form originated from 17th Century monastery recipe.
This drink is one of the town's trademarks. It is produced by several local businesses, farms and family wineries and is served on practically all local establishments. The Ginja de Óbidos (also known as ginjinha) is often served in edible chocolate cups - needless to say, the mix of flavours is positively addictive!
From the Lagoon to the Ocean
From the town walls you can see the Óbidos Lagoon, with 7 square kilometres and an average depth of 2 meters. Here, one can enjoy the freshness of its waters, go on boat rides, go windsurfing and observe the local wild life — several types of herons and other birds, as well as water species such as the sea bass, mussels and eels. Besides the hilltop castle, the Lagoon is Óbidos' most recognisable geographical landmark.
A place where stories are told
Every year during summer time, the town literally goes back in time with the Medieval Market of Óbidos. This is your chance to understand what life in Portugal was like during the Middle Ages. Dive into a world of medieval street markets, traditional meals, music, theatre and knight tournaments and battles!
Óbidos is indeed a place where stories are evoked and preserved, which may help to explain the existence of Folio - Óbidos International Literature Festival. The programme includes conferences and meetings with national and international writers, workshops, cinema and music, and takes place in several different locations in town. This event is part of the Óbidos Vila Literária cultural initiative.