This town has always been inhabited due to its excellent location near the sea and the lagoon. Here a Celtiberian old castle facing west was built and it is where the Phoenicians traded and the Romans settled. It is likely that the Facho south tower might have been a Roman watchtower as an advanced viewing post of the city of Eburobrittium.
On 11th of January 1148 the first king D. Afonso Henriques conquered Óbidos from the Arabs. Óbidos belonged to the defensive pentagon (of the five castles) in the centre of the kingdom which was idealized by the Templars. Most of the Portuguese queens went through Óbidos.
The Park D. Carlos I is one of the highlights in the city of Caldas da Rainha. It is the ideal place to go for a stroll or see the architectural elements of Naturalism and Romanticism in Rodrigo Berquó’s design of the end of the 19th century. You can do many things in the park, for example, you can go boating in the lake, play with the children in the playground, play tennis, visit the Museum José Malhoa or just watch the magnificent diversity in flora, just to mention a few.
“PRAÇA DA FRUTA” (FRUIT SQUARE) - CALDAS DA RAINHA
Known as “Praça da Fruta” (Fruit Square) by the locals, it is an indispensable place to visit during your stay in Caldas da Rainha. It has beautiful cobbled pavement that dates back to 1883 and it was recently revitalised. It has great examples of the architecture in Caldas da Rainha as the highlight is the façades covered in tiles.
Since the 18th century it has been the oldest outdoor daily market in Portugal where you can find the best regional products such as vegetables, smoked sausages, sweets among many other delicious things.
At Quinta dos Loridos, there is The Buddha Eden – Garden of Peace. Here you can find the largest oriental garden in Europe, the impressive Bacalhôa Buddha Eden. Covering about 35 hectares, this garden was created as a protest against the destruction of the Gigantic Buddhas of Bamyan, which was one the greatest acts of cultural barbarity because it erased the masterpieces of the art period of Gandhara from our memories. Among the buddhas, pagodas, terracotta statues and many other carefully placed sculptures, it is estimated that more than 6 thousand tons of marble and granite were used to build this monumental work.
The Sanctuary of Fátima is located in Cova da Iria and it is one of the most important Marian sanctuaries in the world. In 1917 Jacinta Marto, Francisco Marto and Lúcia dos Santos, also known as the three shepherds, said that they saw six apparitions of Our Lady on the 13th of every month from May to October except in August it occurred on the 19th. During one of these apparitions, Virgin Mary asked them to build a chapel there and today it is the central part of the Sanctuary where the image of Our Lady is kept.
Over time, the Sanctuary has been expanded and therefore has been able to welcome more and more pilgrims.
What is fascinating about this fishing town is the row of white houses, the traditional costume, signs of local and cultural aspects and the maritime landscape. The beach of Nazaré is a seaside area and it is one of the most traditional Portuguese fishing towns. Nazaré is great for swimming and sunbathing. On the sand you can still find a few women wearing the traditional costume — seven skirts. They tend to the fish that is all lined up on stakes drying in the sun. Sítio is at the top of the town and this is where you can find the best viewpoints. You can get there by following the road or on the centenary lift.
During the winter you can see the gigantic waves known as “Nazaré’s cannon”.
Peniche is the westernmost city in Continental Europe. It is on a peninsula with a perimeter of ten kilometres. Pencihe has extensive beaches in the north and south for example, the beaches of Supertubos, Molho Leste and Baleal.
The point furthest west on the Peninsula of Peniche is Cabo Carvoeiro and to its left there is the archipelago of Berlengas. This archipelago is currently a natural reserve where you can find rare species of flora, birds and fish.
The beach Supertubos is internationally renowned for the great conditions to practise surfing and body boarding. Since 2009 it has been one of the ten events of the surfing World Championship Tour.
THE MONASTERY OF BATALHA
The Dominican Monastery of Batalha is one of the most important Portuguese gothic buildings with the memorial monument of the battle of Aljubarrota and the royal pantheon, which began its construction at the end of the 14th century with the sponsorship of King D. João I. The monastery is located in the centre of the town Batalha and it has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 28th of May 1983. It is unique for its hydraulic infrastructures and medieval buildings of the monastery.
On the side of the square of the monastery we can find the Equestrian Monument of the Constable Nuno Álvares Pereira. The 1968 statue reminds us of the heroic commander that defeated the invading army at the Battle of Aljubarrota.
The Monastery of Santa Maria of Alcobaça, also known as Royal Abbey of Santa Maria of Alcobaça or simply the Monastery of Alcobaça, is the first work entirely gothic to be built on Portuguese soil. The largest church in Portugal, founded in 1153, this UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most important abbeys of the Cistercian Order in Europe. At the Monastery’s church you can find the tombs of the two main figures of a tragic love story: Pedro and Inês. Their story is told in the rich ornaments that decorate their tombs.
THE CAVES OF ALVADOS AND SANTO ANTÓNIO – NATURAL PARK OF SERRAS DE AIRES AND CANDEEIROS
More than 50,000 years old, the Caves of Alvados were discovered in 1964 and the Caves of Santo António were discovered in 1955. Even though they are both located in the Natural Park of Serra de Aire and Candeeiros and they are both part of the massif limestone of the region of Estremadura, they are quite different and have specific features that distinguish them. For that reason, the public that visits them almost always choose the special programme “the joint visit”, allowing you to visit both caves.
This cave, which is full of wonderful calcareous formation, is World Natural Heritage of rare beauty. There are several natural galleries that were named according to the images that they evoke: the Lake of Happiness, the Christmas crib, the Shepard, Waterfall, Red Cupola, Imperfect Maritime Chapel, Red Vault and the Fountain of Tears.
It has a visiting area of 350 metres in length and 45 metres in depth, below the entrance elevation, with the temperature of 18ºC that is constant throughout the year.
The Caves of Moeda and the Centre of Scientific and Environmental Interpretation are open to the public every day.
THE CAVES OF MIRA DE AIRE
The largest caves in Portugal, named one of the 7 natural wonders of Portugal, The Caves of Mira de Aire are over 11,500 metres in length - the touristic area is 600 metres in length and 100 metres in depth, descending 683 steps. During the tour, one can see two of the three stages of limestone caves, the fossil cave on the upper level and the semi active cave near the final lake. The limestone inside of the cave was formed 150 million years ago.
About a hour away is Tomar. Tomar is an intriguing and fascinating Portuguese town, which should be included in any tour of centre Portugal. Today it maybe a charming and quaint town but during the 13th century Tomar was one of the most influential towns of the Iberian Peninsula, being the religious centre for the Knights Templar. This secretive and powerful religious order once ruled from the Convento de Cristo, and this expansive religious complex is regarded as one of Portugal’s finest national monuments.