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Estremadura Guide

Portugal City Travel Guide: Estremadura & Ribatejo:
Obidos, Nazaré, Batalha, Fátima, Tomar

The provinces of Estemadura and Ribatejo, which surround and stretch north of Lisbon, contain many of Portugal's main tourist attractions. Easily reached by road (and in most cases by train) from Lisbon, the towns of Obidos, Nazaré, Batalha, Fátima and Tomar are all well-worth a visit during any stay or tour in the country.


Obidos by Jean Kugler.

Set in magnificent countryside well-known for some fine white wines, Obidos, population 3,000, is a historical and picturesque walled village.

The thirteenth century castle, built by Dom Dinis, was converted into a palace in the sixteenth and now houses a popular and deluxe Pousada.

Obidos can be over-run with day-trippers, it is best to visit during the week or spend a night or two to enjoy its charms: white-washed houses complete with painted blue and yellow borders and colorful bougainvillea.

The main church - Igreja de Santa Maria - has a fine painted ceiling, a Renaissance tomb and seventeenth century azulejos - traditional Portuguese hand painted tiles. Visitors can walk the city walls - muro - built by the Moors for fine views of the town and surrounding countryside.

The paintings of Josefa de Óbidos (1630-1684), remarkable as a female artist at that time can be seen in the small Museu Municipal (Tel: 262 955 557) on Solar de Praca de Santa Maria.

Obidos rooftops and castle, Portugal.
Obidos Castle and rooftops

Obidos Tourist Office

Rua Direita
Tel. 262 955 060
10am-1pm; 2pm-6pm Mon-Fri

Getting to Obidos

Train Travel in Portugal

There are infrequent, slow trains to Lisbon via Mira Sintra-Meclas. It is much better to take the express Rapida Verde hourly bus to Obidos which runs from Campo Grande bus station to Obidos and then on to Caldas da Rainha with Rodotejo. The journey takes an hour with buses running between 7am-10.30pm on normal days with extra services during carnival.

See and Rapida Verde for further details.

Bus Travel in Portugal

Frequent buses to Caldas da Rainha and then express bus to Lisbon.

Fatima, Portugal.
Fatima souvenir shop, Portugal.
Fatima souvenir shop

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Pousada Castelo

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Restaurante Alcaide
Rua Direita
Tel. 262 959 220
Closed Mon.

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Nazare beach and town, Portugal.
Nazare beach and town



Nazaré, population around 15,000, is in the process of change - from one-time traditional and quaint fishing port - to booming Atlantic resort.

The sweeping (though sometimes treacherous) sandy beach, considered one of the best in Portugal, is packed with holiday-makers in brightly colored rented tents in summer.

It's still possible to see the local women bearing immense loads on their heads and the town's fishermen sporting the area's traditional woolen shirts and bobble hats, but Nazaré also has its fair share of tacky souvenir shops and trinket stalls.

The main promenade Avenida da República is lined with some excellent seafood restaurants and bars. Over 100m above the beach is the clifftop Promontorio do Sitio with amazing views and associations with the Virgin Mary at the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Nazare, an imposing church decorated with azulejos by Dutch ceramist Willem van der Kloet (1666-1747) and built to celebrate the 'miracle' of the Virgin saving the life of a local knight. A funicular climbs the cliff from Rua do Elevador.

Nazaré Tourist Office

Avenida da República
Tel. 262 561 194
10am-1pm 3pm-6pm Sept-June. 10am-10pm July/Aug.

Getting to Nazaré

Train Travel in Portugal

The nearest train station is at Valado 6km inland.

Bus Travel in Portugal

There are frequent buses to most destinations from the bus station on Avenida Vieira Guimarães including Lisbon (1 hour, 45 mins), Leiria (40 mins) and Caldas da Rainha (45 mins).


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Eating & Drinking

Casa Lazaro
Rua Adrião Batalho
Tel: 214 483 319

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Just 12km south of Leiria is one of Portugal's must-see destinations, the stunning abbey of Batalha (Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Vitoria).

A UNESCO world heritage site, the beautiful and ornate monastery was in construction from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries and remains a masterpiece of Gothic and Manueline art.

The monastery and town were built to commemorate the defeat of the invading Spanish in 1385 lead by Juan I of Castile by Joao d'Avis and his general Nuno Álvares Pereira, in a bloody battle fought near the town. The king, his English wife Philippa of Lancaster, and a number of Joao's sons including Henry the Navigator are buried in Batalha monastery. The Royal Cloisters (Claustro Real) are considered a masterpiece of Manueline architecture.

The abbey is open from 9am-6.30pm and is free to enter with a small charge to visit the cloisters.

Getting to Batalha

Bus Travel in Portugal

There are six buses daily to nearby Leiria and from there to Lisbon and a service to Caldas da Rainha.

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Second only to Lourdes as Europe's major pilgrimage center, the small town of Fátima with around 8,000 inhabitants, 123km north of Lisbon, welcomes millions of devotees a year who come to pray at the site of a miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary here in 1917.

Three shepherd children had a vision of Mary, who supposedly reappeared on the 13th of each of six subsequent months calling for peace in the world.

On the day of the final apparition a crowd of over 70,000 people had gathered and claimed to witness the Miracle of the Sun, when illnesses and disabilities were cured among the onlookers. One of the children Lucia is said to have received "Three Secrets" from the Virgin.

A vast white Basilica and esplanade were completed in 1953 as a shrine for the ever growing numbers of pilgrims flocking to the town. The courtyard outside the basilica is double the size of the square in front of St. Peter's in Rome.

Fátima remains a strange mix of devotion and commercialism with shops selling a mind-boggling array of religious souvenirs to visitors.

Fátima Tourist Office

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Avenida Dom José Alves Correia da Silva
Tel. 249 531 139
10am-1pm 3pm-7pm May-October. Closing at 6pm at other times.

Getting to Fátima

Train Travel in Portugal

Fátima is on the main Lisbon-Porto line but the station is 25km by bus from the centre.

Bus Travel in Portugal

There are frequent buses to Leiria and Tomar.

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Central Tomar.

Latter-day El Cids, and anyone else drawn by stirring tales of Medieval daring and chivalry, would be well advised to head for Tomar - the spiritual home of the Order of the Knights Templar and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Convento de Cristo, founded in 1160 by Gualdim Pais, was the religious and military headquarters of the Order of the Knights Templar as it fought to drive the Moors from the Iberian peninsula. The monastery castle is set in wooded hills and surrounded by impressive walls. Architectural highlights include the nautical themes of the Window of the Chapter House (Janela do Capítulo) and the elegant Claustro Principal (Great Cloisters).

This mysterious place, redolent of the occult, seems straight from the pages of an Umberto Eco novel. The Knights, who lived here, came from all over Europe and even attended mass on horseback in the round chapel (rotunda).

The monastery is within easy reach of the center of Tomar: a pleasant and laid-back place of around 20,000 people to linger and relax for a few days. Visit the 16th century Igeja de São João Baptista (Church of Saint John the Baptist) in Praça da Republica and one of Portugal's oldest and best preserved synagogues, now a museum on Rua Dr. Joaquim Jacinto.

Tomar Tourist Office

Avenida Dr. Cândido Madureira
Tel. 249 322 427
10am-7pm April-Sept; 9.30am-6pm Oct-Mar.

Getting to Tomar

Train Travel in Portugal

The nearest train station is on Avendida Combatentes da Grande Guerra with trains to Lisbon's Oriente Station.

Bus Travel in Portugal

There are buses to Lisbon and Fátima from the bus terminal near the train station.

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Hotel Templarios

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Eating & Drinking

The main eating and drinking places are on Avenida Dr. Cândido Madureira or head down to the river.

The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.
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