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Obidos Guide

The Wedding Present Town; Portugal's most romantic medieval village



Obidos, Portugal


All of Obidos has been declared a national monument. It is known as the "Wedding Present Town" because it was a gift King Dinis gave to Queen Isabel on their wedding day in 1282, but that alone is not what makes it such an extraordinarily romantic place -- what make it one of Europe's most romantic medieval villages are its incredibly picturesque cobblestone streets lined with colorful houses filled with geraniums and bougainvillea, Gothic doorways and windows, whitewashed churches, flowerpots and dazzling tiles -- all encircled by the walls of a 12th century castle. Scaling its 13m (45ft)-high medieval walls is the best way to admire this picture postcard-perfect place.

Obidos castle

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 archeological finds to 15-17th-centuries sculptures and paintings), and Santa Maria Church. That's where 10-year-old King Afonso V married his 8-year-old cousin Isabel in 1444, with an interior entirely faced with tiles and containing the tomb of João de Noronha, the castle governor who died in 1575. 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.

Every July, a Medieval Fair recreates the Middle Ages with medieval music, knights, witches, and theater performances, and during the International Chocolate Festival in November, Obidos becomes the world's chocolate capital with incredible chocolate sculptures.

The best way to experience the romantic atmosphere of the village is to stay overnight when most visitors are gone. Try booking the castle hotel well in advance -- you'll find yourself filled with medieval romance when you step outside and find the walls floodlit and the narrow alleys brightened by the moonlight.


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