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Leiria

Capital of the district, Leiria developed on the Castle’s hill. 
When the Portuguese kingdom started to expand its borders and Christian faith was being settled, the 1st Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, conquered the Castle from the Moors, in 1135. In 1195 was the last Moorish assault, but the town will still continue to live within the castle’s walls until the 13th century, except for the “Igreja de S. Pedro” (St. Peter Church), a Romanic temple built near the castle’s gates. The city has other churches also worthy of a visit, temples like “Sé” (the Cathedral), “Igreja e Convento de Santo Agostinho” (St. Augustine Convent), “Igreja da Misericórdia” (Mercy Church) “Igreja do Espírito Santo” (Holy Spirit Church), “Igreja de S. Francisco” (St. Francis) and the “Santuário da Nª Srª da Encarnação” (Sanctuary of Our Lady of Incarnation).

Still in the historical centre of the town, Cândido dos Reis Square is also a meeting place for young people. Here several bars and pubs bring to life this old part of the town. Only 6 km away from Leiria, in Milagres, the Sanctuary of Our Lord of Milagres also deserves a visit. But the municipality has other charms! Only a few minutes away, to the north, one can take a relaxing drive through the Leiria’s Pine Forest, the oldest Portuguese pine forest and arrive at Pedrógão Beach. Here, traditions are present either in the typical boats or in the fishermen’s nets. 
If you prefer a peaceful scenery try a pick-nick at the Ervideira Lake. Within this municipality, it is still possible to find many true flavours and traditional celebrations. At table, lobsters, spider-crabs and clams, as well as rock-basses, sea-breams, soles, the traditional sardines and the Boa Vista suckling pig, all a delight to everyone!

If meat is your favourite, than you should taste the roasted lamb leg, the Portuguese “cozido”, the typical pork sausages and the grilled pork steaks. “Brisas do Lis” and “pine-nut cakes” are the most known sweet specialities.

 

Leiria Castle

Leiria has a long and uncertain history. It was certainly occupied by the Turduli, an indigenous people from Iberia, who established a settlement near Leiria about 7 kilometres away. The Romans later occupied Leiria who expanded it under the name Collippo. Stones of ancient Roman Town were used in the Middle Ages to build much of Leiria.

Little is known about the area in Visigoth times, but during the period of Arab domination Leiria was already a village with a garrison. The castle was captured from the Moors by Afonso Henriques in 1135 and was transformed into a royal residence for Dom Dinis in the 14th century. Inside the walls is a peaceful garden rambling and the ruined Gothic Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Penha – originally built in the 12th century and rebuilt by João I in the early 15th century. There are beautiful leaf-like carvings over one of the arches. The most striking feature of the Castle is the gallery with small seats that provides a fantastic viewpoint over the town and its multitude of red tilled roofs. The castle keeps the Nucleo Museulogic displays replicas of brutal medieval weapons and armour – you’ll have to use your imagination cause there is no English interpretation available.

Dom Afonso III convened a parliament here in 1254 and in 1411 the town’s sizable Jewish community built Portugal’s first paper mill here. Leiria was the first place to make paper in Portugal. The mill no longer makes paper but a ceramic tile panel still marks the site where the paper mill was built. The cathedral at the southeast of the castle was started in the 16th century and the cloister, and chapter houses date from 1583 to 1604. Its bell-tower is not part of the main building, but situated in a street nearby, where a gateway once led into the castle. Opposite the cathedral is the wonderfully tiled pharmacy Leonardo Paiva with blue and white azulejos depicting Hippocrates, Galen and Socrates, Novelist Eça de Queirós used to live in Rua da Tipografia next to the cathedral and would meet his literary group at the pharmacy.

There are various museums and factories that can be visited as part of the “Glass Route” including Museu do Vidro da Marinha Grande which houses glassware from the 17th – 20th centuries in the former palatial home of William Stephens. Palácio Stephens, Praça Guilherme Stephens, 2430-960 Marinha Grande. Tel: 351 244 560 209. Fax: 351 244 561 710. Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Open Tuesday to Sunday, October-May: 10am to 6 pm. June-September 10am to 7 pm. Closed on Mondays.

Leiria Town

The town has traditional narrow streets in its old quarter with cobbled streets that open out into squares that are often filled with cafés. Candido dos Reis is a particular haunt for the students. The old town is focused around Praça  Rodrigues Lobo with several hotels and restaurants nearby. The hilltop castle is a short walk uphill to the north. There are free car parks to the north of the town and it’s easy to find park around the outskirts of the old town.

The train station is 4 kilometres northwest with frequent bus connection. Leiria is on the Cacem to Figueira da Foz line connecting it to the suburbs of Lisbon. Buses run to Coimbra, Fatima and Tomar. Regular express bus run to Lisbon.

The Regional Leiria Tourim Office is at Jardim Luís de Camões – Apartado 1115, 2401-801 Leiria. Tel: 351 244 848 770. Fax: 351 244 848 779. Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Restaurants

Albergaria do Terreiro
Address: Largo Cândido dos Reis 16, 2400-112 LEIRIA
Tel: 351 244 813 635
Fax: 351 244 835 190
Closed on Sundays and saturdays
www.epl.pt/restaurante

This is a school- restaurant where students from Leiria’s Professional School cook the meals. Classic decorated space but in the kitchen, creativity is in charge.

Cardápio do Visconde

Address: Rua Nossa Senhora do Amparo 76, 2400-398 LEIRIA
Tel: 351 244 854 074
Closed on Tuesdays

A gastronomic reference in Leiria. Organizes gastronomic weeks dedicated to Portugal’s different regions.

Lá Além
Address: Rua Maria da Fonte 6, 2400-180 LEIRIA
Tel: 351 937 377 770
Wed-Mon from 12pm to 2am, Tue from 7pm to 2am

Traditional Alentejo gastronomy.
It’s advisable to book.

Puttanesca

Address: Rua Escola Lote 2-463, 2400-321 LEIRIA
Tel: 351 244 856 180
Closed on Sundays
Spanish and Mediterranean dishes

Tromba Rija
Address: Rua Professores Portela 22, 2415-534 LEIRIA
Tel: 351 244 855 072
Fax: 351 244 856 421
Opens from 1-3pm and from 8-10pm
Tue-Thurs just opens when booked.
Closed on Mondays and Sundays at dinner.
Closed in August for vacation
www.trombarija.com

One of the best restaurants around. It’s all about quantity and quality. You’ll have the best meal of your life.