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.

 

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

Funicular takes you up

A funicular takes you from downtown Nazaré up to Sítio, the higher part of Nazaré. On the large square next to the church of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré, young and old get together, souvenirs are sold to tourists, and you can enjoy the view of the village and the beach of Nazaré 110 meters below. In the church there are many azulejos panels, including a Dutch one from the 18th century.

The Igreja (church) da Nossa Senhora da Nazaré (originally from the 12th century, rebuilt in the 17th century) is tiled with lots of beautiful azulejos, but more important is the black Madonna statue. Twice a year, this statue is the destination of pilgrims: on 15 August 15, Assumption Day; and in the 2nd week of September, the Romaria da Senhora da Nazaré.

Opposite the church is a small chapel, the Capela da Memória, alsmost completely covered with azulejos. The chapel was built in memory of the wonder of a nobleman in the 12th century: during a hunt he and his horse were about to fall over the edge which he couldn't see because of very thick mist, when the Holy Virgin appeared at the edge of the abyss. That's when the nobleman saw the abyss just in time and he could turn around and safe his life.

On the westside of the main square, you can descend to the lighthouse (farol). Here the waves of the ocean crash high on the steep cliff.

In Sítio there are several bars, restaurants and terraces for a drink or a meal.

 

In Conímbriga one of the largest Roman settlements of Portugal was found, and therefore declared National Monument.

The remains are of a very good quality. You can see an aquaduct of about 3 kilometers of length, a part of the forum and a temple, some graves, fortress walls with towers, and the foundations of some houses.

At the "Casa dos Mosaicos", the house with mosaics, you can see beautiful decorations with geometric figures, flower ornaments, and animal images.

At the "Casa das Termas", the house with the thermal baths, you can recognize the hot and cold baths. You can also see the heating system that used underfloor hot air circulation to heat the rooms. A system that is still in use nowadays!

In the Museu Monográfico, also part of the site, you can see all kinds of objects that were found in the excavations, like coins and surgical tools.

www.conimbriga.pt