Obidos, Portugal Tourist Attractions
Óbidos (altitude: 70m/230ft)is probably included in every tour of western central Portugal. Because of its prettiness and general attractiveness the whole town has been declared a national monument.
This also means that in order to preserve the original townscape there are no big hotels in Óbidos, although there are several small, deluxe establishments inside the old walls. The number of beds is therefore extremely limited, and it is almost impossible to get a room here in the summer months without early reservation. In earlier centuries the Lagoa de Óbidos, a big lagoon with a narrow opening into the sea and now more than 10km/6mi northwest of Óbidos, reached almost to the little town. This Atlantic dimension made Óbidos strategically important and it was therefore strongly fortified in Moorish times. Already a place of great attraction in the Middle Ages, Óbidos was frequently chosen as the queen's dowry, and it was a favorite residence of St Isabel and other queens and kings of Portugal. Queen Leonor lived here for several years, mourning her only son who had been killed in a riding accident.TownscapeThe old town center is surrounded by walls 13m/45ft high, battlemented and reinforced by towers, and laid out on the lines of an acute angled triangle. Within the walls is the picturesque old town full of interesting corners and alleys with handsome patrician Renaissance and Baroque houses, most of them covered in flowers. Nowadays Óbidos is obviously a place for tourists and artists, so that there is a correspondingly large number of antique shops and selling points for arts and crafts, including locally woven carpets, together with commercial art galleries.
Igreja de Santa Maria
Also on the Praça de Santa Maria is the parish church of Santa Maria (originally Gothic but later remodeled in Renaissance style), its interior entirely faced with 17th C. azulejos. The church also contains the tomb of Joao de Noronha, the castle governor who died in 1575, by Jean de Rouen, and the painting the "Mystic Marriage of St Catherine" by Josefa de Ayala Figueira (17th C.).
The main street, the Rua Direita, leads from the town gate, the Porta da Vila (decorated inside with 18th C. azulejos), to the main square, the Praça de Santa Maria, which has a beautiful fountain and a 15th C. pelourinho bearing the emblem of Queen Leonor, a fisherman's net. The Queen chose this emblem when her dying son was brought to her by fishermen who had wrapped his body in a net from the Tagus.
There was a castle on the town's highest point in Moorish times. This was rebuilt and reinforced by Afonso I Henriques after the capture of Óbidos in 1148. The former palace within the castle walls has been converted into a pousada. From the keep there are fine views of the town and surrounding area.
Senhor Jesus da Pedra
Outside the town walls of Óbidos, on the road to Caldas da Rainha, is the church of Senhor Jesus da Pedra, a Baroque church built on a hexagonal plan between 1740 and 1747. The cross on its altar is probably second or third century.
Serra d'El Rei
About 7km/4.5mi west of Óbidos is Serra d'El Rei (141m/463ft) where there is a magnificent view of Peniche. The place's only other interesting feature is the ruined 14th C. castle built by King Pedro I.
Igreja da Misericórdia
Close by the Igreja de Santa Maria in Óbidos is the Igreja da Misericórdia with a fine Baroque doorway.
The town museum is in the old town hall on the Praça de Santa Maria. Exhibits range from archeological finds to 15th-17th C. sculpture and paintings.