On-road to Lisbon, not far from our last location, there is a beautiful gem, made as if to be given as a gift to the princes Isabel of Aragon while she was only 10 yrs old. This happened back in the year 1282 and since then the town went through many military problems, natural problems, all while remaining just as beautiful, peaceful and very much interesting as you will soon find out.
Obidos -> white and orange stones with colorful lines. This is what you see from the outside.
But step inside and all you see are tales of wisdom, written on paper, or seen in the details around the town.
13.1 Obidos with a view over the Castle and Santa Maria Church
I chose to show this picture as the first one because, in one way, it makes a beautiful summary of what to expect from a distance out of Obidos. Many flowers, and mostly in nuances of pink, violet, and magenta. Also, all the roofs are in neat condition. The houses seem all white. And the wall is perfectly conservated.
13.2 Wisteria and the white wall with a blue line
Step inside and the houses are not just white. They all share common features: orange ceramic tiles and blue lines. And yes Wisteria plants to make a white more interesting.
13.3 Wisteria arching out on the white with yellow wall
Yes, not only blue lines.
13.4 On another street, but looks like in the same area. Yellow and Blue.
Casa de Rochero is a place to stay, much like a hotel, but without the much publicity, army of signs or any elements to drive your attention off.
13.5 Yep not just Blue and Yellow
In fact, unlike other fortresses, in Obidos is not that much agitation on selling (Made in China) products, so you can freely roam the streets without gazing into tourist traps. Here, for instance, is an azulejos painting hidden from people who climb the hill. So you better pay close attention as gems such as this are all over the place.
13.6 Yes there are many churches but not all of them are churches
13.7 The Library of Sao Tiago
From the exterior, you would expect to enter a church, but in reality, is a library. Round shelves dress the white walls. Wood floors make your stay more enjoyable and together with the books help at giving the smell of a library. (and it’s not just what you see in the image, there is also a next floor and more)
13.8 Grocery Store
Think you want to buy food for the stomach? Why not for the brain also?
The thing is that not that many doors are opened. And when you find one, sometimes there a group of people with their cameras or phones out of the pocket, talking loud to each other or to the owner. This is how you know there is something inside that you should check out!
No crazy publicity, no one yelling or staying in front of the entrance checking out if he has to bother letting you in or not.
13.9 Outside of the city walls (see the map)
And where you read all those books? How about underneath a pink curtain of flowers. Occasionally you will hear also the train running under the hill. The only missing audio feature in this picture is the presence of bees and of wasps 🙂
13.10 Here is what you see if you want to find the place with the many blossoms trees
13.11 Walls, history and Spring
By now you must have figured that I was in Obidos in the Spring and yet even if the colors were missing, the green would have been there. Is Portugal! No snow here 🙂
Same goes with the clean streets, simplistic architectures and the lack of too many people and too many stores that push products at every turn. All this, inside a ring of well-aged stone, make this destination a really romantic one. No worries on the many stores that push you to take a souvenir.
13.12 The fields outside of the walls
If you ever feel claustrophobic, then you could find one of the many small entries/exits into/out of the fortress and take a breath of fresh air. This must be a feature, made during the restoration of the whole town, after the huge earthquake of 1755. (During which time, many historical buildings got destroyed, sadly from the Arabian occupation time – that is before 1148. So not much to see with oriental design elements)
13.13 Senhor Jesus da Pedra sanctuary
Looks both like a castle (that sits outside the city walls) and as an old prison. Actually is a monastery built-in 1740, just before the earthquake and it houses the Lord Jesus made in stone (a crucifix). And so it is a very visited place by pilgrims, just because of that artifact.
13.14 Other peaks in the walls guarding the city
13.15 The castle, rebuilt in 1148 by Afonso Henriques
Now the part I did not like: the castle.
Around it are houses made in cardboard that give you the impression of time travel. Yet all the time I was in Obidos, before arriving here, I actually felt like back in time. In a very good way, don’t get me wrong.
On those first images taken on the empty streets, you can very well imagine the people carrying vegetables from the farms around the city. Horses pulling carriages and pilgrims visiting this area. The restoration of the city is so well done that when you enter the buildings you feel (sometimes) both immersed into Obidos and surprised to find books everywhere (now with Youtube and all).
Then you arrive at this place, with the castle, that features a big dusty car parking, flanked by painted cardboards, like on a low budged cowboy movie. Since I did not like it much, did not enter either in the Castle. But kids love it…
13.16 The restaurant Lidador
In contrast with the faked environment around the Castle, here is a restaurant, taking use of Wisteria plant to hint towards the entrance.
13.17 Azulejos on Porta da Vila (main entrance)
No journey into Portugal is without blue painted white ceramic tiles. And is only fair to end this article with a sense of continuity.
We did not escape into another world, but rather another time in the history of this great country. A time when beautiful towns were given gifts to Princesses. Young Princes and Princesses get married in small and cute towns, filled with flowers and ceremonial white.
This was Obidos, the city that houses culture in every building. A city that said no (at least in 2017) to pointless plastic gift shops and yes to timeless printed words!
Remember the first article? Valenca? Well, that might be the North so the stone is important for protection. So important that the fortress is also protected by stony mazes. But here, in Obidos, people were a bit better protected so they used the place to store culture, not rocks.
You can get to Obidos by train from Lisbon Oriente for a bit under 2h and a few euros. There are many busses (check the map for the huge parking), so many that parkings are filled with them.
We came by car from the north (just like this series of articles) and all parking was filled by big buses -> so we parked on the streets, outside of the city walls. So if you do the journey from Valenca, down to Lisbon, you should definitely make a stop here, especially if you spent the night at Nazare.
See you in the next episode.