They say to visit Leiria is to see a river that runs up, a tower that doesn’t have a church, a church that has no tower and a Straight Street that is not. At least curious, I would say. But the popular rhyme is correct and these and other curiosities make this Portuguese city worthy of a visit.
The center is not big, so in one morning you can walk through the main points of interest. From the castle to the city museum, prepare your shoes and follow this script. 😉
Let’s start with one of the main monuments of the city. On top of the hill, the Castle is a fantastic example of romantic military architecture. Built by king D. Afonso Henriques, it was considered a national monument at the beginning of the 20th century and today it keeps among its walls tales of the importance that the city had for the History of Portugal.
You will have to pay a ticket, but it will be worth as you’ll be able to visit the Royal Palace, the Church of Santa Maria da Pena and the Tower.
Descending from the castle you will find the Cathedral. The building was built in the 19th century, but what you can visit today is already a reconstruction. After all, it has passed through the 1755 earthquake and the French invasions.
House of Eça de Queiroz
Few know (at least, I didn’t) that Eça de Queiroz was born in Leiria. (*)
The writer’s house is still in the same place, marked by a commemorative plaque. Unfortunately, it can’t be visited, because it’s in a very degraded state. A pity, given the importance of Eça for the Portuguese culture.
But you can always walk around the city looking for other signs of the author’s passage through that place.
(*) Correction: As the reader, Telma Martins so well pointed out, Eça de Queiroz was not born in Leiria, but in Póvoa do Varzim, a city in the north of Portugal. The same can be observed on the sign that’s at the door of the house where the writer lived some time (I don’t know how I didn’t see it!!). My apologies for the mistake!
Rodrigues Lobo Square
It’s the main town square and around it, there are several cafes where you can pass the time.
Right next door I found a facade of a building with wonderful paintings. And there are other little places to discover when you visit Leiria. 😉
Luís de Camões Garden and surroundings
Another landmark of this city is the Luís de Camões Garden. Extending along the Lis River, it’s the starting point to discover other places of interest around it, such as the Banco de Portugal building, the Sant’Ana market, the fountain or the Church of the Holy Spirit.
Museum of Leiria
Last stop before we left: the Museum of Leiria. With the entrance right next to the Convent of St. Augustine, it holds collections that tell the history of the city.
The ticket costs € 5 but entitles you to a visit to the Paper Mill, a few meters away.
And after visit Leiria…
Stay in one of the several hotels in the city. See all available accommodations below.
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Follow me in a walk around leiria