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The beautiful streets of Òbidos.
The beautiful streets of Òbidos.
Inside the St Mary's Church.
The Grand Castle.

Obidos

Thursday, January 10, 2002
We invite you to discover the history, shopping and romance of one of the world's most romantic villages.

Óbidos is Portugal's most romantic village. It has a population of just 500, and its reputation dates back to the 13th century when the honeymooning King Dinis and Queen Isabel loved the enchanting village so much, he presented it to her as a wedding gift. That tradition lasted 600 years. Every Queen of Portugal was presented with Óbidos as part of her dowry.

Some have left a legacy. Queen Catarina built a massive aqueduct to provide fresh water, but most provided something religious. The church of Santa Maria dates back 1200 years, but as the interior was renovated in the 17th century, it is almost considered modern! Its interior is simple with a painted wooden ceiling and 17th century tiles. King Afonso V was 10 years old when he married Isabel, his eight-year-old cousin, there.

An altar table painted by Josefa de Óbidos is on display in the church of Santa Maria. She was a nun and lived most of her life in Óbidos and is buried in the church.

The fortified hilltop village is enclosed by high, castellated medieval walls. It sits on a limestone ridge, overlooking a 16th century aqueduct. Until the 15th century, it overlooked the sea, but the bay filled with silt, leaving a lagoon, and the town became landlocked.

The walls date to the Moors of the 8th century, but were ineffective in protecting them against Alfonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal. He was a fierce warrior and conquered the town in 1148, one of seven seized from the Moors, and makes up the official Portuguese coat of arms.

The term "Pousada" is often heard in Portugal. It refers to a historical monument that has been turned into lodging. In Óbidos, you can stay in the castle, which has just nine rooms. It has cobbled lanes, bright white houses with blue or yellow trim, the colours of the royal coat of arms. No other colours can be used. Wildly colourful bougainvillea and soft wisteria grow in profusion.

There are four entrances to the town, but only one for tourists. Cars, unless owned and driven by a resident, are absolutely forbidden. The main gate, Porta da Vila, is very fancy and leads straight into the main street. That is where you will find shops and cafes.

Buildings are decorated with ceramics. Many local artisans have a talent for making them, and you will see them at work, creating their colourful tiles, and the basket-style ceramic unique to Óbidos. The style symbolises the baskets used during grape harvest. Choosing what to buy is a difficult task.

Óbidos almost seems to be more a showpiece than a town, and its silent, starry nights and beautiful nightfalls can give the feeling of actually being there centuries ago.

Nearby is Caldas da Rainha — Queen's Hot Springs. With 25,000 residents, it is much larger than Óbidos, but equally as quaint. Famous for its steaming sulphuric waters and pottery, Dona Leonor, wife of Dom João II, built a spa hospital there, and the hot waters are said to assist respiratory problems and rheumatism.

Óbidos is an easy train ride from Lisbon, and buses stop just outside the town gate.

Location

One hour north of Lisbon.

Cost

Yalla Tours has a seven-day Discover Portugal tour including accommodation, transport, some meals and sightseeing, costing $1411 per person, twin share.
Qantas flies daily to London with connections to Lisbon. Return economy airfares start at $2069 from the east coast, Adelaide and Perth, per person. Taxes, levies, charges extra. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Yalla Tours
40 Beach Street, Port Melbourne 3207
Ph: (03) 9646 0277 or 1300 362 844
Fax: (03) 9646 6722
E-mail: info@yallatours.com.au
Qantas: Ph: 13 13 13
For a safe and healthy journey, talk to the travel doctor: 1300 658 844 or visit traveldoctor.com.au
Vaccinations: Tetanys/Diphtheria, Measles if under 30 years and Hepatitis A. Long stay Heptaitis B. No Malaria. Gut problems are common and a medical kit such as The Tour Kit or Travel Kit is handy to have.

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