May 23rd ~ A Visit to Medieval Villages Outside of Lisbon, Portugal
This was an optional full day excursion to explore the countryside around Lisbon. The theme seemed to be medieval towns with cobblestoned streets and whitewashed buildings. Once again it felt like stepping back in time, in such a good way.
I think it would have been even more fun to have been dressed the part…
The first stop was in the small village of Obidos, with its historic centre. Only 54 miles (87 km), it makes for an easy day trip from Lisbon. We had missed the Buskers Festival by a day, but there were still several remnants of the festivities, including costumed personalities that added to our fun as we roamed the streets. You can click here to see a YouTube clip of some of the Busker’s Festival if you are curious.
Just FYI, there are several other festivals that may be of interest if you are planning a trip to this area. Since this is predominately a Catholic country, this includes several religious festivals, but of a different flavor, check out the Chocolate Festival or the annual Medieval Fair which normally is sometime in July.
We pretty much just wandered on our own for an hour or so. The main street was crowded with people browsing in and out of tiny shops or stopping to try cherry liquor in an edible chocolate cup at one of several roadside stands.
We briefly stepped inside the Santa Maria church.
“The Church of Santa Maria in Óbidos was the setting for the wedding of King Afonso V to his cousin, Princess Isabella of Coimbra, on 15 August 1441, when they were both still children aged 9 and 10, respectively.” ~ Wikipedia
As in many of the old towns in Portugal, there are remnants of an ancient castle and wall.
“The name “Óbidos” probably derives from the Latin term oppidum, meaning “citadel”, or “fortified city”.” ~ Wikipedia
The area itself shows evidence of being occupied by the Romans in the 4th century BC, but Castelo de Obidos probably dates to the mid 1100’s.
Our next stop was Alcobaça.
Alcobaca is a town that only became notable in the 12th century when it was chosen as the future site of Portugal’s largest church, the Church of Santa Maria Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was also the first building in Portugal to adopt the Gothic style.
The importance of the monastery can be measured by the fact that many royals were buried here in the 13th and 14th centuries. Checking out the intricately decorated tombs of King Pedro I and his lover Inês de Castro was of interest. Inês was murdered on the orders of Pedro’s father, King Afonso IV.
After being crowned King, Pedro commissioned two magnificent Gothic tombs for him and his mistress, and here started the story about “The Queen who was crowned after death”. The full story of Pedro and Inês is a fascinating Portuguese version of Romeo and Juliet and if you are interested in knowing more, you can click here.
Lastly, we stopped at the charming fishing harbor of Nazaré. Located on the Atlantic Ocean, it has the reputation of having one of the finest beaches in Portugal. Known as a tourist destination, where one can sometimes spot the local women wearing a traditional headscarf and an apron over seven flannel skirts, it is also home to huge waves. A mecca for extreme surfing, several world-records have been set for “largest wave ever ridden”.
And did you know that the rooster is the national symbol of Portugal? You can click here to find out why.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for the fun and whimsical costumes we observed in Obidos. It also brought back fond memories of last Halloween when our dear friends Laura and Michael hosted a costume party. It was the first time in many years that Tim and I had donned 70’s disco costumes and we had a FABULOUS time. Someday I may need to research how wearing a costume allows one to step outside their current life, and for that brief moment in time, become an entirely different persona.
I enjoyed the buskers festival. Thanks
So glad you stopped by and commented. We enjoyed seeing the medieval areas of Portugal. Somehow this seemed like the perfect setting for a buskers festival.
All three places look utterly charming, and those churches are quite spectacular.
Alison, as you know, some days it seems like just one church after another when touring. But I’m a bit of a sucker for the amazing architecture, icons and majestic decor that can be found in these old cathedrals.
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Most interesting and beautiful photos. Thank you!
Thanks Larry. Yes, charming is a wonderful adjective for this area!
Alcobaca is grand, majestic, extraordinary – I love wandering through the buildings, just lingering in the stillness. Tomar is always on my list for a return visit too, and next time you are in Portugal do visit Batalha. And next time do think about hiring a car and staying in the historic Pousadas!
Candy, when/if we return someday I would definitely want to rent a car and explore on my own. Having time to wander from town to town would be lovely. Thank you for your recommendations.
My husband and I are about to embark on a year long trip. Thanks for the ideas.
How awesome! I’ll have to zip over to your blog to find out more about your plans. Wishing you safe travels and great joy as you build a lifetime worth of memories.
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Joanne/Tim – I always learn so much from your posts. We are heading to that area in September, and your vacation has served to give me an introduction! Many thanks – Susan
Susan, September should be the perfect time to visit. Wishing you a truly magical journey!
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