I love summer in Portugal, even if it is very warm, there is always a cold breeze in the evening to freshen you up. The warm weather also announces the summer festivals. There is a lot to enjoy in the open air, music, theater, opera and the famous medieval fairs and tournaments.
Obidos and its Medieval charm is the perfect setting for the yearly Medieval Fair that takes place every end of July to beginning of August. Medieval Fair or not, I return almost every year. I love to stroll around, always admiring its beauty and nice handicraft shops.
You walk in the footsteps of Romans, Visigoths and Moors which dominated Obidos before the Christian victory led by our first King Afonso Henriques in 1148. Remnants of the past are still visible in its planning, architecture, its narrow streets and its colorful houses.
At one time it was known as the “Vila das Rainhas” or the town of the Queens as in the Christian Era Obidos would often be part of the Queen’s dowry and under her patronage.
When you enter the city gate you are greeted by this beautiful arch with typical portuguese tiles.
And then you get into the bustling summer atmosphere.
Although I know most of the shops and cafes, there is always something new to discover like this amazing bookstore which also sells organic produce. So original and the two sides seemed to blend perfectly together…
Being obsessive about books I could have stayed hours just browsing but the Medieval Fair awaited us…
On our way there you pass the beautiful Santa Maria Church, believed to have been dedicated by King Afonso Henriques in the 12th century to commemorate the defeat of the Moors in the battle for the control of Obidos.
And although the fair is inside the castle walls there are characters you meet outside that set the mood for what you may find when you enter the castle grounds…
Once inside you arrive at another era and there is so much to do and see. You can start by dressing to the period to blend in or just get yourself a pair of trendy medieval shoes.
You can also enjoy great Medieval music with groups like these serenading you
But while strolling around be aware of certain characters who may interact with you, among them fools who will try to make you laugh or upset you depending on your mood and witches who will try to unsettle and surprise you when you least expect it…
Food stalls offer food for every taste. You can also observe and learn how things were done then.
There are many types of bread you can taste. We all know the wonderful smell of freshly baked bread which I always found very hard to resist. It reminds me of my childhood when my mother or father would come home from the bakery and announce there was warm bread. One of us would rush to the fridge to get the butter and we would indulge ourselves until our parents said it was enough. Such a simple pleasure!
It was very hard to resist the calling of the warm bread, particularly the one with chourizo which is one of my favourites. Baked in a traditional firewood oven, the softness of the warm dough with the slight spiciness of the chourizo is heaven.
But there was so much more to choose from like this whole pig
Or the traditional fried chicken with Piri-Piri, a spicy sauce that is made with “malaguetas” a type of chili from Africa, where we once had colonies. My husband loves it.
It is funny how your modern mind tends to forget how things worked in Medieval times. Our group ordered soup which appropriately came with a wooden spoon. We also ordered the fried Piri-Piri chicken and when it arrived I distractedly asked where the cutlery was. The server just smiled and explained there was none!
Also special are the great amount of conventual sweets and desserts available. They are extremely rich but delicious and for one day who cares about calories?
There is of course no Medieval Fair without a Knights Tournament. We had a great time and enjoyed the skill of the knights and the horses.
It was nice to go back in time, see the castle grounds come to life in this way.
When you leave there is still time to turn around and look at this enchanted place.
It is at such moments that I feel happy and in peace with the world. It is so special to be back in my country, see such beauty, reconnect with my people and gain new strength for my next challenge.
If you have been following my journey through this blog, you know I just left Mexico after five wonderful years to embark on a new journey in Austria, my husband’s country.
I needed this break in my country in between. Portugal is and will always be my safe haven. The place where I recharge and become whole again.
I hope you can appreciate it as much as I do and can follow in my footsteps one day…