Elected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, it is the most important monument of Portuguese Gothic. Its construction began in 1388 and lasted for almost 80 years.
Mestre Afonso Domingues drew the foreground: Church, Cloister, Chapter Room, workshops and convent dependencies, inserting the architecture in the model followed by the mendicant orders (Franciscans and Dominicans). It has a Latin cross plan, with three naves and a head with a chancel and four collaterals. Note the vaults of the Capela do Fundador and the Pantheon of D. Duarte (Imperfect Chapels) with flamboyant Gothic decoration.
The Abbey of Santa Maria de Alcobaça, founded in 1178 by the Cistercian Order, is also a World Heritage Site. The Church’s central nave impresses the visitor with the depth and height of the ogive vaults. In the transept’s side chapels are the tombs of D. Pedro I and D. Inês de Castro, magnificent buildings with medieval tomb sculpture.
The Cloister, a work from the reign of D. Dinis, evades the austere decoration, and on the upper floor, a work from the reign of D. Manuel, it has depressed arches and capitals with human and plant representations. The convent’s dependencies are located around the Cloister: the Chapter Room, the Monks Room, the 18th century kitchen and the Refectory. Rich tile panels can be seen in the Sala dos Reis, as well as clay statues of Portuguese monarchs.
Monastery of Saint Mary of Cos
In Alcobaça, four kilometers from the town of Maiorga, is the Convento de Cós, former farm of the Monastery of Alcobaça, dating from the century. XIII.
It brings together a remarkable set of artistic creations, from the body of the church and the choir covered by a painted coffered ceiling, forming a wide barrel vault in dark tones, which contrasts with the brilliant blue of the walls lined with tiles from the end of the 20th century. XVII, an inlaid stalls, carved altars with images and paintings.
The Castle of Leiria was the stage for some of the most important events in Portuguese history. The beginning of its construction dates back to the 12th century and, during its construction, the Castle went through several reigns, having undergone the intervention of different kings.
After the various battles it went through, from the fights with the Muslims to the French invasions, the monument was partially destroyed. A visit to this Castle is like immersing yourself in Portugal’s historical past, a journey aided by the Keep, which has recently been transformed into a museum.
It is made up of three towers, with a terreiro in the center with a huge pointed cistern, fed by a water source. On the south side is the Paço do Conde D. Afonso, which gave this military structure a palatial aspect.
On the north side of the Castle is the large Terreiro de S. Tiago, which in its center has the statue of D. Nuno Álvares Pereira. On the south side, facing the Castle, rises the Paço do Conde D. Afonso, followed by two imposing turrets. Both the Palace and the turrets are testimonies of an unusual architecture, of Venetian inspiration, which unites the palace and the military function.
Porto de Mos Castle
Porto de Mós Castle can be seen from afar by its towers, large and green, with a pointed shape, which makes this castle one of the most original in our country.
With a pentagonal plan, the castle initially had five towers, at five angles, having as its first mayor, the legendary knight D. Fuas Roupinho, who would leave from here to fight the Moors. After spending several years being damaged by Arab attacks, during the reign of D. Sancho I, it was rebuilt, and began to gain housing features. From 1930 onwards, the Castle began to be restored, being today one of the most peculiar in the country.
Natural Park of Serras de Aire and Candeeiros
The Natural Park of Serras de Aire e Candeeiros is a remarkable natural space privileged for the practice of nature sports.
Made up of the Serra de Aire e Candeeiros and the Plateau de St.º António, a series of rare karst formations are gathered here: creeks, poljes, cliffs, lapia fields, dry valleys. The main points of visit include the Salinas in the Rio Maior area, the Stº António Caves, Alvados, Moeda and Mira de Aire, Olhos de Água, Lagoas do Arrimal, Polje de Minde, the partitioning of the landscape into walls of loose stone, and the paleontological deposit of dinosaur footprints in “Pedreira do Galinha”.
Leiria pine forest
Pinus pinaster forest started to be sown in the reign of D. Afonso III, in the 13th century, later intensified in the reign of D. Dinis – the King Farmer. In addition to serving as a barrier against the advance of the sands, it played a major role in the use of its wood for the construction of the vessels that provided for the Portuguese Maritime Discoveries. Today, Pinhal de Leira is the preferred place for leisure and contact with nature.
If you like to enjoy nature on foot or by bike, check out the various itineraries in the region for your tours. You can even download those same routes in GPS format.
Sun and Sea
The region has a large number of picturesque beaches, some more cosmopolitan, others more traditional.
Praia do Pedrógão, like Praia da Vieira, reflect the ancient art of fishing in typical boats, or in the women’s own costumes. Surfboards and sails full of sea breeze, between drops of water and sun rays complete the beauty of these beaches.
S. Pedro de Moel sheltered in a shell of houses full of good taste and aristocratic air, where surfing is practiced here throughout the year.
The most typical beach in Portugal, next to the imposing Sítio promontory. The beach, marked by the extensive sand confined to the Piscatório Port, is, in a practical sense, a huge sidewalk where people walk in close contact with the sea and with the inhabitants of Nazaré. On very hot days, the old work of the Xávega art can be reborn, with the master calling the company.
S. Martinho do Porto
In the municipality of Alcobaça, there is S. Martinho do Porto, a perfect beach along a stunning shell-shaped bay with calm blue waters, perfect for water sports and for children.
Sanctuary of Fatima
Built in 1928 with limestone from the Region, it is formed by the Basilica and side wings. It is considered the “Altar of the World”. Today the Shrine of Fatima welcomes on pilgrimage and prayer many thousands of believers from all over the world, especially on the annual Pilgrimage from May 13th and on the remaining 13th of each month, from May to October.
The center of activity is in addition to the Capelinha das Aparições, the Basilica measures 70.50 meters long and 37 meters wide. It has 15 commemorative altars of the 15 Mysteries of the Rosary. Still in the sanctuary’s precinct we can see the large holm oak, under which the Little Shepherds and the first pilgrims waited and prayed the rosary before Our Lady arrived, the monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which stands in the center of the square, the high cross at the southern top of the enclosure.
Sanctuary Our Lady of Nazaré
For many years, Sitio da Nazaré has been much sought after by pilgrims, who go there to see the place where the miracle happened with Mrs. Fuas Roupinho who, on the verge of falling off the cliff, invoked Our Lady of Nazaré.
Today it is an imposing monument, with two tall towers, in which the main altar stands out, in the interior, consisting of a gilded carved altarpiece, with Solomonic columns and marble applications. At the mouth of the tribune there is a large painting alluding to the miracle of the appearance of Our Lady of Nazaré to D. Fuas Roupinho.
The pilgrimage that always took place to this temple endowed it with a wealth of valuable offerings, which were to be plundered at the time of the French invasions.