Obidos: A Medieval Town with everlasting charm

May 22, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 1.49.28 PMNestled behind walls that date back to the 12th century, medieval town of Obidos sits atop a hill overlooking the Portuguese countryside.

tugal.” According to Pousadas of Portugal, a state owned company that runs historical hotels, Obidos was the traditional gift that the king of Portugal gave to his wife. The tradition started in 1282 when King Dinis gave the town to Queen Isabel.

From its medieval walls to the ancient aqueduct construct- ed by Queen Catherine in 1575, Obidos is overflowing with history.

The focal point of the town is the castle.

“Obidos is set up like a house, and the castle is the living room,” said Paula Ribeiro, a representative from the Town Hall of Obidos.

Ribeiro said that the history around the castle, which is now a hotel run by the Pousadas of Portugal, is tangible.

“Kings and queens were here long ago,” she said. “You can feel it here, in the atmosphere.”

Now, the castle is used as the backdrop for the many festivals that the town holds throughout the year. The Obido’s international chocolate festival started in 2002 and has become one of the town’s most profitable events.

“Obidos really has no history of chocolate,” Ribeiro said. “The town hall was just looking for ideas for events and an American, named Sandy Lesberg, submitted the idea.”

Every year more than 200,000 people come to Obidos for the festival, where they can try different types of chocolate, take cooking classes, and checkout the chocolate sculptures created for the festival.

The festival even led to the pairing of ginja, the local liquor of the region, and choc- olate. It has become a staple in Obidos, and nearly every shop in town sells the

Ginja in chocolate cups. With an economic crisis plagu-

ing Obidos, the locals rely on the festivals and other events to stay busy and have fun, Ribeiro said.

“People need something to go to and just smile for a little while,” she said. “The festivals give them that.”