Óbidos is one of Portugal’s best preserved medieval villages just 80 km north of Lisbon. It’s also one of Portugal’s most interesting walled settlements and is a national monument. It is known as the “Wedding Present Town” because it was a gift by King Dinis to Queen Isabel on their wedding day in 1282.
From the hidden corners and high walled gardens of the old medina area, to the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque features, the village is an extensive work of art, carved, destroyed and rebuilt since 308BC.
Travel there by coach from Lisbon’s Campo Grande station (10E +/- one way). Only residents are allowed to drive in the village but parking is possible next to the Tourist Office for a small fee or is free in other parking areas. During festivals, a car park is run by the local volunteer firemen close to the aquaduct.
Walking is the best way of seeing Óbidos. The main street (“Rua Direita“) leads from the town gate (decorated with 18th century tile panels) to the main square (Praça de Santa Maria). It has a beautiful fountain, a 15th century pillory, the Town Museum (with exhibits ranging from archaeological finds to 15-17th centuries sculpture and paintings), and Santa Maria Church. Closeby is Misericordia Church (with a fine Baroque doorway), while outside the walls is the Amoreira Aqueduct, built at the behest of Catherine of Austria in 1575.
If you have a head for heights, great views of the town and countryside can be had from the ramparts. Start from the side of the Pousada, hug the wall and follow it around.
Festivals are held throughout the year. One of the biggest is the international chocolate festival, usually in March, which lasts 11 days. Visitors can sign up for cooking courses and watch as national and international professionals and amateurs compete for prizes. In July, a Medieval Fair recreates the Middle Ages with medieval music, knights, witches, and theatre performances. Other festivals include Holy Week celebrations at Easter and Villa Natal (Dec – early Jan).
December is special in Obidos when it turns into a dream place filled with lights, wonder and colour and where everyone – children and adults – can enjoy a magical experience. Father Christmas visits and there are shows, games, inflatable amusements and even an ice rink!
Further information can be found here.