Óbidos, One of Portugal's 7 Wonders

This charming and timeless town is a lovely "open air museum" of white houses surrounded by a medieval castle. But there is life beyond archaeology in this place. Go for a walk in the great lagoon's dunes, taste one of the finest Portuguese liqueurs and be swept away by the magic of Óbidos' ancient walls.

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.

A Castle full of Life

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.
Within the walls we can travel in time through several different historical periods. The Town Gate combines and old medieval castle door with Baroque decorations. Stroll along Rua Direita (Main Street) and enjoy its white houses until you get to Paço dos Alcaides, a 16th Century style palace. The town also includes the Renaissance-period Santa Maria Church and many other interesting monuments and buildings, as well as some sections of the castle walls that were restored or altered after the 1755 earthquake.

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.
But the sea is not far away, since the Lagoon borders the Atlantic Ocean just a few miles to the west of Óbidos, where several pleasant beaches can be found. You can enjoy the white cliffs of Praia de Rei Cortiço, or climb the dunes of Praia d’El Rei. At Praia do Bom Sucesso, located between the Lagoon and the sea, you can swim or surf in the Atlantic waves. A local panoramic viewpoint gives you a great view of the coastal area and the lagoon itself. Finally, at Praia de Covões, a "wilder" and less touristy beach, you can walk on the sand until you reach the neighbouring sea town of Baleal.

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.

Other activities take place in Óbidos. At the Municipal Museum you can enjoy visual arts exhibits and learn about the work of Josefa d’Óbidos (1630 – 1684), a renowned painter who settled in this town, where she produced most of her works. Music is also part of the menu with SIPO - Óbidos International Piano Festival, an event showcasing renowned classical pianists. Finally, the International Chocola Festival goes very well with a glass of ginjinha!

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