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obidos“The Wedding Town” was the traditional bridal gift of the kings of Portugal to their queens, a custom begun in 1282 by Dom Dinis. The town (a couple of hours from Lisbon by train) has hardly changed in appearance since then: its cobbled streets and steep staircases wind up to the ramparts, from where you can gaze across a countryside of windmills and vineyards. The parish church, Igreja de Santa Maria (in the central Praça), was chosen for the wedding of the ten-year-old child-king Afonso V and his eight-year-old cousin, Isabel, in 1444. It dates mainly from the Renaissance, though the interior is lined with seventeenth-century blue azulejos (or painted tiles) in a homely manner typical of Portuguese churches. The retable in a side chapel on the right-hand side was painted by Josefa de Obidos, one of the finest Portuguese painters and one of the few female artists afforded any reputation by art historians. One corner of the triangular fortifications is occupied by a massively towered Castle built by Dom Dinis which has been converted into a Pousada.

Also worth mentioning is the Casa d’Óbidos, built in 1889 and located about 1km south of the town walls, it has beautiful gardens and an air of faded grandeur. It’s worth staying around since, as is so often the case, the town reverts to its own life after the daytime tourists disperse. One of the better budget places to eat is the Café 1 de Dezembro, next to the church of São Pedro.

Information courtesy of Travelnow and Rough City Guides Lda.