Óbidos is precious, a typical village where tourism dominates, but where we easily forget the touristy “machine” so discreet as efficient.
In most of our old towns in Portugal, development was made against history, leading to the loss of many cultural references to the past.
In some places, the process has been stopped and reversed, with several initiatives of preservation and reconstruction.
Óbidos is an exception.
The development of town took always place respecting history and tradition, and that is easy to feel in the absolute harmony of the whole. There are not outstanding details, but each street, each building, each corner, is authentic, and harmonious.
For details see the good official page: Óbidos
City’s Main Door
The south entrance is a strange but beautiful door, that is also a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Mercy, the patron saint of Óbidos.
This door was built in the 17th century, still showing a balcony from the same period.
The tiles were added in the 18th century
“Once the wedding present of a queen, the preserved medieval town of Óbidos lying 100 km north of Lisbon is without doubt one of Portugal’s most classic walled settlements. Walking the ramparts, visitors can enjoy views of windmills, vineyards and surrounding farmlands.
In the residential area below, narrow cobblestone streets are lined with whitewashed houses sporting terracotta roofs. The shops are piled high with local handicrafts, while in spring the town is ablaze with geraniums, morning glories and bougainvillaea” (from portugalvirtual)
Yes, I agree and couldn’t write it better, always feeling good in Óbidos!
Some people say it was Roman. Maybe!
For sure, the actual castle seen in Óbidos comes from the Arab occupation, until the XII century.
Damaged by Lisbon earthquake, it was reconstructed, and now it houses a luxury hotel.
If you are in a budget follow the ramparts and watch it from outside (better from north).
If you can afford more than 200 euros for a double room, go round and check-in for a historic night.
S Tiago church
This modest church from the 18th century (replacing an older one destroyed by Lisbon’s earthquake), almost inlaid in the castle, shows some baroque and neoclassical ornaments.
It’s only exterior evidence from the walls is the tower, and the white painting, topping one of the most beautiful streets in town.
Santa Maria church
Presumed as a Visigothic construction, the church was transformed in a mosque under Arabic occupation.
After Christian conquering, in 1148, it was dedicated to Santa Maria. It was reconstructed in the XVI century in Renaissance style, acquiring the look that it still keeps.
Nothing very important happened there until 30 years ago, when my brother decided that it was the proper place to get married.
And he did, allowing the first visit, several times repeated.
S Pedro church
This medieval church was ruined by Lisbon earthquake in 1755, only the main building escaping from destruction.
It still has a gilded altar from the XVI century, and it houses a small museum.
“Os Lusíadas” by Luis de Camões is the greatest cultural reference of Portuguese literature and history. It’s an epic poem, celebrating the Portuguese discoveries and conquests, written in the 16th century.
To register the discoveries, our navigators used to signal their discoveries by erecting a carved stone pillar, called “Padrão”, that are already present in almost all the continents.
To celebrate Camões there has been an initiative to erect in the local places mentioned in the poem a copy of a “Padrão”.
That’s what happen in Óbidos, near the southern entrance: A “Padrão” designed by Raul Lino and erected in 1932.
Pick a calm night (hot or cold, it’s the same, it’s only a matter of coat or not, but invite the rain to stay away).
Take your time, and walk along the narrow streets of Óbidos. You will find out that the beauty seen by day gets another expression with the discrete and balanced illumination.
If in summer, crowds will pass by you with the noisy happiness of the good moments. In winter, the austere loneliness of the streets direct you to one of the many bars where a few unconditional lovers of Óbidos enjoy the peace and tranquility of those selected moments.
Don’t do it often: you risk to become one of the unconditional…
Óbidos has become a top destination, and it is visited all days, all year around.
If you may choose your visiting time, do it in spring – You will have sun, escaping from the summer crowds that fill each street, shop or bar, and will see the place with the colors of the many flowers planted everywhere.
“Ginginha” is popular in Portugal, but Óbidos has a special detail – you may drink it by a chocolate cup, that tastes very well at the end.
Do you believe that, despite this originality, they are trying to design an exclusive Obidos glass for ginginha?
They say that their Ginginha is the best of Portugal!
Well… you may hear the same “decision” in many other places, starting, for instance, in Alcobaça, nearby…
Senhor da Pedra
For almost 50 years that church intrigues me!
I read that it has “hexagonal plant” but it really looks round. If we consider the external chapels, then the whole is a sort of triangle.
The style is clearly baroque, and I read somewhere that it is unfinished.
Anyway, that’s a silhouette that always catches our attention any time we look around from the high points of Óbidos or in its way.
Lagoon of Óbidos
Not far from Óbidos there’s a lagoon with the same name, communicating with the sea, that once extended to near the town.
Now it occupies a much smaller area, but it is still considerable.
For further details see my Foz do Arelho page.
I had already passed many times in Gaeiras, without stopping.
One day, I went TO Gaeiras and had a look around.
Nothing to compare to Óbidos, but this residential area, with almost one third of all the population of the great Óbidos is not ugly, and is trying to develop quickly.
This event, “presépios (nativity scene)” exhibition, is an example each year in December.
I will write something more about Gaeiras in Leiria district page.
Usseira, a small village about 5 Km south of Óbidos, what does it have?
Calm life, nice people, and… a few friends.
Do I need more to go and to see this other part of Óbidos?
Dancing took me there.
Twice… so far!
And once more…
O Lidador – Hurrah!
Excellent. Great menu, delicious food, nice service, good wine. What else shall I say?
I’ve been there again, and the good impression remains. I was with a Canadian couple after a VT meeting and they both also appreciated the meal.
Favorite Dish: Óbidos style pork loins
Address: R. Direita n. 19
Phone: 351 262 959 200
Muralhas – Good restaurant
A good restaurant, with traditional and international food (pizza too), at a selective price, but not exaggerated. Good location and service. It shares the management and menu with Traçadinho, that I visited a few months ago, and stays a little out of town.
Favorite Dish: Bacalhau and several steaks
Address: Rua D. João Ornelas 6, 2510-074 ÓBIDOS
Phone: +351 262 958 550 Website: Muralhas Other Contact: email@example.com
Zina – Off the beaten path
If you need a quick and cheap meal on the road, about two kilometers south of Óbidos, in the old road to Lisbon and Peniche, you have this restaurant, with fast food prices and regular Portuguese and international food quality.
It’s a popular and common place, with serious but not very elaborated cuisine, and a discreet but efficient service, and if it happens to you being with a large group, a good place to talk and laugh without the sensation of disturbing the other customers.
Address: Est Nacional 8, n. 22 Phone: +351 262 107 935 Website: Zina
A few kilometers distant
In the road of Capeleira, a few kilometers south of Óbidos, this restaurant managed by the owners of Muralhas, in town, follows the same high standard in food.
Traditional food mixes with new cuisine, with quality at an affordable price.
Bacalhau na Abóbora was my choice, and though with very good presentation, the idea was somewhat unsuccessful, because the tastes don’t mix well.
Address: estrada da Capeleira Phone: +351 262 959 489 Website: Traçadinho
There’s not much to do at night in Óbidos, but what we have is good. In a beautiful typical house, in the centre of town but outside the walls, you descent to the basement, where a few small rooms allow you to sit and have a drink.
Ginginha (with or without chocolate cup) is a common solution, but you may also order a Toupeiro (mole). It’s cool, sweet, and very tasteful, but if you’re driving be careful – it’s stronger than it looks, and the second one may get you troubles with police.
This light and fresh drink is a secret of the house that helps to make the difference.
Real Tavern – For a light meal
A nice bar, in a very beautiful spot, a medieval place under an arch. Inside, they try to match medieval decoration, not too well succeeded, but the ambiance is good. It has all the common typical drinks, and serves “tapas” where several kind of sausages, and more, may be chosen.
Phone: +351 967179341
Address: R. Hospital, 5 Óbidos
It’s a challenge, to climb the narrow steps to the walls!
If you dare, be careful – though large enough to a safe walk, the walkway along the walls is narrow and unprotected.
I needed, once, to hold a french friend and help him in his way back, when he realized that he shouldn’t face the risk.
Believe me, that walking doesn’t add much to the safe visit using the streets.
Óbidos is small, but the narrow streets are steep, and the irregular cobblestone pavement is not the best walking solution.
To save the pleasure of walking around, you’d better be prepared with comfortable walking shoes.
Memories of Óbidos
For decades Óbidos was only a very beautiful place.
Now, Óbidos keeps being a very beautiful place where many things happen. Initiative and good taste invite thousands to several events all year around.
For instance, the chocolate festival: the castle is there, chocolate is delicious, and when February allows a mild day or evening it’s hard to get your space in parks and lines to… excuse-me, that candy in that second shelf…
No, Óbidos doesn’t have the best Ginginha – for that you must try Alcobaça, but Óbidos is the best place to drink Ginginha.
This very strong and sweet liquor plays a distinguishable role in Óbidos evenings and afternoons.
Served in a chocolate cup, be careful: drink and eat everything but your fingers!
Batalha, Alcobaça, Nazaré and Obidos are so close that it is common to put them all in a single day trip from Lisbon.
Of course, things must be seen in a rush, and those who like to feel the places at ease and with time may get disappointed.
Among all those places, the ones that may demand more time are Nazaré and Óbidos.
In a VT meeting I planned the visit of more than 20 VTers, and tried to forewarn things planning lunch break in Nazaré and free time by the afternoon in Óbidos.
I was betrayed by the bus contract, imposing the return early than expected, but I think that things were not too bad.
Anyway, if you’re one of those who love details, you’d better plan an overnight trip, living the magic of Óbidos by night. Checking the Vter’s reactions to the meeting and trip (nice, thanks) I noticed that someone complained about the rush, and the “terrible guide”, always pushing forward.
When I was preparing my excuses, I noticed that the guide was a… “she”.
Reading more carefully, I verified that the time mentioned in a monument was about half of what we had. Of course, she wasn’t part of our group, and came in a commercial trip, maybe before the meeting.
I think we did better than the pros, and those are excellent memories of Óbidos.
March is marked in Óbidos by a new event, that is becoming a strong attraction – a chocolate fair.
All kind of qualities, artistic demonstrations, and cultural animation fill Óbidos with many thousand visitors.
PS – Some people start complaining that paying 5 € just to… buy chocolate, is too much.
Aren’t we in crisis or not, after all?
Óbidos means… animation, and in December, Christmas is a natural theme.
Several amusements, mainly with kids in mind, give life to a lively city.
The problem is that, sometimes, the mild Portuguese weather forgets to come, and the artificial snow doesn’t look so artificial after all.
Parking in the city is possible, but moving inside it is complex and with many restrictions.
The best option is to use the parks south of the city; the closest one costing 0.60 € per hour, the other one, a few meters away, free of charge.