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Lovely towns

Glass town with English twist

Marinha Grande is located between Leiria and the coast. Since the second half of the 18th century it is the centre of glass manufacturing industry.

The Royal Glass Factory (Real Fabrica de Vidros) was bought by an English entrepreneur William Stephens who developed the factory and the business under the protection of the Marques de Pombal, and added a glassblowing school. The wood from the nearby pine forest was used to fuel the factories.

In 1826, the factory was given to the state and became one of the country's main producers of traditionally made fine crystal.

The former palacial home of William Stephens now contains the Museu do Vidro da Marinha Grande (glass museum) which houses glassware from the 17th-20th centuries.

Two other museums in Marinha Grande:

Museu Santos Barosa: Santos Barosa is the oldes glass factory in Portugal, and still working. The factory also has a museum, its collection shows how glass was made and used through the ages.

Museu Joaquim Correia: the former residence of one of the most leading families of Marinha Grande. It is a 19th century house, and contains the artistic heritage of Joaquim Correia. He was born in 1920 in a family of glassblowers. He studied the art of sculpting, first in Porto and later in Lisbon. He was a student of famous artists like Simões de Almeida, Francisco Franca, Barata Feyo and António Duarte.

 

One of Portugal's major seaside resorts

Figueira da Foz is a lively and cosmopolitan seaside resort at the mouth of the Mondego River, it’s main asset is its wide and extensive sandy beach.

The beach is many kilometers long, and hundreds of meters wide. It stretches from the mouth of the Mondego to the fishing village Buarcos. Next to Buarcos is the Cabo Mondego, a limestone rock with lighthouse, quarries and browncoal mines.

Northwest of Cabo Mondego is the Serra da Boa Viagem. From the highest point, the Alto da Bandeira (258 meters) you have a fantastic view.

Every year, in the night 23 to 24 June, there is street party in the honor of São João, with parades, fireworks and folk dances.

In the Bairro Novo (new district) there are many hotels, restaurants, discos and a casino. Every year in September there is a film festival in Bairro Novo.

Some of the attractions in Figueira da Foz:
Igreja do Antigo Convento de Santo António (church of the old Santo António convent)
Capela de Santa Catarina (saint Catarina chapel)
Museu Municipal Santos Rocha (municipal museum Santos Rocha). On exhibition are findings from the stone age and the roman period, colonial art, ceramics, carpets, and contemporary art
Igreja Matriz de São Julião (mother church of São Julião)
Mercado Municipal Engenheiro Silva (municipal market halls)

Picturesque fortified town continues to fascinate

West of Caldas da Rainha, is the town of Óbidos. Óbidos is a fortified town located on top of a hill, and still encircled by high walls. Once the town was surrounded by sea, so it was of strategic importance, which explains the high location and high walls.
Dom Dinis gave the town of Óbidos to his wife Isabela as a wedding gift. Together they spent their honeymoon in Óbidos. For ages Óbidos was the wedding gift for every new Portuguese queen.

The whole of the town of Óbidos is declared as a monument. It has many streets, alleys, squares, white houses, shops, and restaurants. The walls are still completely intact, so you can walk all around the village.

Just before the entrance you can find the Tourism office, here you can get your own copy of the Óbidos map and lots of other information.

The Castelo

The Castelo is very old. During the earthquake of 1755 it was heavily damaged. In the 20th century the ruins were reconstructed. After te reconstruction the castle became Portugal’s first poussada in a historic building. Unfortunately it is not open for the public, only for hotel guests.

Seaside resort at shellshaped bay

São Martinho do Porto is a friendly village overlooking a famous shell shaped bay with a very narrow entrance from the sea. Because of this the water in the bay is very calm, which makes it ideal for a day at the beach with young children.

Although the number of fishermen is decreasing, they still catch fish and shellfish on a daily basis, which is often sold directly to the restaurants at the bay.

Every year many tourists from Portugal as well as from abroad visit the bay to swim, surf, sail or canoe, or to enjoy the sun on the beach. At night they go for a stroll on the promenade before they have dinner in one of the many restaurants.

Across the bay is Salir do Porto. It has a beach with a famous sand dune of almost 49 meters high. The beach is located near the river Tornada that flows into the São Martinho bay.

It is very nice to walk along the bay. Starting at the port you can walk either on the street or on the beach. From restaurant O Farol there is a boardwalk that takes you through the dunes, and gives you a good view on the variety of flora in the dunes. The boardwalk takes you across the river into Salir do Porto.

From the viewpoint Miradouro do Cruzeiro you have a great view over the bay, São Martinho do Porto, and the area. On a clear day you can even see Peniche and Nazaré.

The market is open every Tuesday to Sunday, offering you a wide range of vegetables, fruit and fish.

www.visit-sao-martinho-do-porto.com