We were in need of a weekend getaway so we decided to head north and visit the town of Obidos that we’d been hearing so much about. And we weren’t let down!
Obidos is a captivating medieval walled town an hour or so north of Lisbon, surrounded by rolling hills covered with orchards and vineyards. It’s set on a hillside, along a narrow ridge, allowing just a couple of streets barely wide enough for a car to run its length, and which are connected by a number of steep alleys and staircases.
The town was a gift by King Afonso II to his wife Urraca of León in the 1200s, and many of the building and monuments found throughout the town were funded by her. It became a custom thereafter for the current reigning king to pass Obidos onto his wife, who became its new benefactor.
One enters the town from the Porta da Villa, a narrow gate that immediately opens up into a Baroque chapel with a high altar decorated in blue azulejos tiles. From here you make a left turn and enter into the town, onto either an upper road (Rua Direita) or lower road (Rua Josefa de Obidos). Direita is the main street, lined with quaint shops, boutiques, cafes, restaurants. Many serve Ginja, a cherry-flavoured liquor that’s a specialty of the region, from their doorways – one euro gets you a small taste.
The town itself is very picturesque with red-tiled roofs, cobble-stoned streets, white-walled homes trimmed with blue or yellow borders, and wherever you go, plenty of creeping vines and colourful bougainvillea.
At the end of Rua Direita is the castle mount, founded by the Moors in the 700s. Over the years it has been added onto, primarily by the queens acquired the town during their reign. The castle is now a posada/hotel and you can actually have a room inside the castle. From here you can also access the ramparts and walk a portion of the walls that at one time defended the town. The walk provides excellent views of all of Obidos and the countryside made up of vineyards and orchards.
What impressed us most is that although Obidos is certainly a tourist attraction, it hasn’t been overdone and lost its charm. The shops and boutiques offer very unique souvenirs and handicrafts, locally made, rather than the run-of-the-mill types too often found at such popular spots. There’s plenty of restaurants, so do make time to have lunch there. The town itself can be walked in less than an hour, but add to it by exploring the delightful shops along the way.