OBIDOS – Portugal
On a cloudless spring day, we drove from Sintra to Obidos. Surrounded by protective medieval stone walls – Obidos sits on a hill commanding a countryside view.
One enters this storybook town through two staggered gates designed to protect the town from storming invaders, a common sight in medieval Portuguese towns and villages. We paused to admire a recessed portico above the archway of the second gate adorned in exquisite azulejo tiles depicting biblical scenes.
Bathed in bright morning sunshine, the white-washed terra cotta roofed houses trimmed in cobalt blue and sunflower yellow gave off a sparkling-white welcome. Geraniums sprouted out of flower pots, and stores spilled their colorful merchandise into the narrow cobbled streets.
Rua Direita (the main street) leads to Obidos Castle and Igreja (Church) de Santiago. The church was built in the late 12th century, destroyed by an earthquake in 1755 and rebuilt in 1772. Today it has been repurposed as a unique bookshop-Livraria de Santiago. We browsed the interesting and diverse collection of books and admired the picture-perfect view through the lens of the doorway.
Silva & and Feijo is one of Portugal’s most original and interesting chain stores. Established in 1919 by Julio da Silva and Ivo Nuno Feijo, each store has creatively imagined interior design akin to a museum, and all display their primary product – fish and seafood – in flat tins depicting scenes of Portuguese cities and villages. We bought several to take home as gifts and more for picnic lunches on our road trip. Not only are they works of art, but the fish is delicious. The company also makes gourmet jams, vinegar, sour cherry liqueur, crunchy cookies, and crackers. The Silvo & Feijo store on Rua Direita in Obidos is one of their most beautiful.
We wandered the quiet web of side streets where the small population live in a little paradise of tranquility within the ancient medieval walls, where bougainvillea bursting in color drape themselves on the walls and traffic is non-existent.
Praϛa Santa Maria, South of Rua Direita, is the main square of Obidos. It’s dominated by Igreja de Janta Maria – The Church of Santa Maria, which was initially a Visigoth temple, then a mosque, then a church severely damaged by an earthquake, and ultimately rebuilt as a church in the 16th century.
Obidos has some irresistable chocolate stores. Wandering the side streets surrounding the square, we came across Obidos Chocolate House, where we watched chocolate being made behind glass windows. Each chocolate is a mouthwatering work of art.
Within two days of arriving in Portugal, we established a late-morning routine of stopping for cappuccinos and freshly baked Pastel de Nata. Just beyond the old castle walls in a tiny courtyard, we indulged our new addiction and lingered awhile before setting off for Nazaré.