ÓBIDOS is thoroughly charming – a very small town, completely enclosed by medieval walls – and although much was rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake, it retains a captivating feel with its cobbled alleys and whitewashed houses. To the Portuguese it’s known as the “Wedding City”, after a custom whereby the ancient kings gave the village to their queens as a wedding present. Perhaps more curiously still, five hundred years ago the sea reached the foot of the ridge on which Óbidos stands and boats were once moored below its walls. As the sea later retreated, it left a fertile green plain and the distant Lagoa de Óbidos, with the town now marooned inland. In 2015, it was designated a UNESCO City of Literature because of its literary heritage and contemporary creative scene. Not surprisingly, Óbidos hosts some good festivals: a March Chocolate Festival; a summer festival (July to September), which includes a ten-day medieval fair, opera at the castle and other concerts and events; a Classical Music Festival (October) and a big Christmas Fair (details for each at the turismo)..

Naturally enough, such an attractive, history-laden place attracts visitors by the coach-load, while the land below the walls shows ever-increasing development. However, it’s really just the main street that gets overly congested, and you only need to climb the side alleys or the perimeter walls to escape the throngs.

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Mani Ramaswamy

written by
Mani Ramaswamy

updated 26.04.2021

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