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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.
Conquered from the Moors in the 12th century, and included in the dowry of several queens. the distance of 85 km from Lisbon, makes it the most visited. There is a natural charm in its white houses, surrounded by flowers, inviting to stroll through the steep streets, until the top, with the castle (now a hotel), one of the seven wonders of Portugal. In the way back, browsing the churches with art and the shops with local handicrafts, is an unforgettable pleasure, ending with a "Ginginha" in a chocolate cup. Yes, we always feel good in Óbidos!
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The reconquest of the Portuguese territory to the Moors was assured by the help of Christian military groups, generally associated with religious orders. As a reward for his participation in the conquest of Santarém, Cistercian religious order received from King D. Afonso Henriques a vast territory extending from the sea to the Candeeiros mountain range, known as "Coutos de Cister". Couto's donation letter dates from April 8, 1153, but it was only in 1178 that the construction of the Abbey began under the guidance of Bernard of Clairvaux, later sanctified.
It is the first monument of Gothic architecture in Portugal, which earned it recognition as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983.
The Abbey was an important pole of colonization, functioning as a school of agriculture, and around it were born several settlements, based on the flourishing agricultural activity.
The Monastery remained the epicenter of all activity around, until 1833, when its position alongside the faction defeated in a civil war, led the monks to flee, a situation confirmed the following year with the official extinction of religious orders in Portugal.
The monastery survived, passed to state property, and regained its determining place in the local economy, now through tourism.
The passage of the years provoked some changes and additions, very visible to the visitor.
The most notable of these changes was the inclusion of two royal tombs, by D. Pedro I and Inês de Castro, perpetuating the Portuguese "Romeo and Juliet". Equally striking is the alteration of the facade, badly damaged in the mid-16th century, and whose final reconstruction only happened in the early seventeenth century, with the inclusion of baroque elements.
As a detail, the sacristy, added in the reign of King Manuel I, fell with the Lisbon Treaty in 1755, but its reconstruction preserved some Manueline details.
The entrance to the church is free, but the visit of the rest of the monument requires a ticket, with some alternatives of exemption or discount, which can be consulted in the official page.
This important natural park covers part of six municipalities of the districts of Leiria and Santarém, and presents many attractions, mainly in the geological plane.
Situated close to several top tourist destinations, the park complements the historical and urban wealth with an interesting set of visits and activities, which deserve to be highlighted:
- The many wonderful caves ( Alvados, Mira de Aire, Santo António are the most touristy, but Algar do Pena, discovered in 1985 and with the biggest room in Portugal - 125.000m3 - "joined the club")
- The salt mines in Rio Maior, more than 200 m above sea level
- Trekking routes along the best landscapes
- The springs of Olhos de Água and Arrimal
- The Natural Monument of Dinosaur Footprints
Lodging in the park is possible, but people use to stay in one of the touristy points nearby.
Detailed information (in Portuguese only) in PNSAC
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Graphic showing average weather in Obidos in Celcius and Centimeters (Change to Farenheit and Inches)
|Month||Temp °C||Rainfall Cm||Temp °F||Rainfall Inches|
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