Leiria, a town with an old castle and a paper factory opened in 1411!

From Coimbra we caught another convienent and affordable train to Leiria. As we walked in from the train station – which was not quite as close to the center of town as we had hoped – we passed through some nice parks along the river, spied the local sports stadium, and saw the castle on the hill above town. Our adventure from the train station was a good lesson in the limitations of using your phone for navigation. We assumed the station would be close in, or have obvious busses, or cabs because that has been our experience so far. Alas, the Leiria’s station is situated on the edge of the city, and away from the central city. There were no cabs waiting to collect random travelers and the bus stop had no information. A quick search for directions on our phones offered no bus options to our hotel, but it was within 3 KM, so we started walking! It was a lovely and doable walk, even with our bags, but a little more than we usually like to take on. We discovered the busses do run from the station to close to our hotel, but for some reason even all knowing Google does not have their routes or timetables. Lesson learned, we’ll either do a bit more research or ask next time!

In Leiria’s old quarter, tight streets and interesting buildings. Leiria had a good sized Jewish population prior to them being persecuted and eliminated. There are efforts to acknowledge this history, but the conversion of synagogues to churches and the persecution means there are almost no physical reminders of the community.
The alter of a church that was originally the main synagogue in the city.
We ventured up the hill to see the castle. The city has an elevator you can take to get you part way up the hill and several people stopped us to point it out to help us avoid the climb, which is just another example of how kind the people in Portugal are! Once you get to the top the views are well worth it, whether you made the climb or enjoyed the elevator ride!
The castle had an amazing porch with beautiful columns around the archways.
Some of the detail in the stonework. This type of detail appears all over.
Inside the castle church. The complex has been partially restored and the church is in very good shape. Evidence of Roman occupation has also been found in the area.

As we got to the top of the castle complex and wanted to explore the partially restored tower a group of college students asked if we could wait for 9 minutes to go in as they were taking some measurements. We explored the grounds as other groups of students also wandered around. An instructor correctly interpreted our curiosity and said they were devising a plan to rebuild the tower as a class project.

Statue of the King associated with the castle. Again, I gotta start making better notes.
Some more beautiful tile work, this time on the side of the paper factory. Leiria was home to one of the first paper factories in Europe and also one of the first publishers. The first paper factories were in China and date back to 106, this one dates from 1411.
One of at least three water wheels that powered the paper factory.
Not to be outdone, Leiria also has a number of buildings with beautiful tile decor.
We happened to time our visit to be during the month-long city festival. We wandered over one afternoon and saw the carnival rides, were able to resist the temptation of fried dough and ice cream, and checked out the market stalls.
Like all good fairs, there were tractors! Not sure what level of status the Lamborghini tractor represents.
And, some pretty blooms.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s