Whoever enters the city of Leiria will immediately see its towering castle, the scene of several important events in the history of Portugal.
The castle is a fantastic place where you can spend a great afternoon and enjoy the various activities that the castle offers, for example:
-Yoga at the castle
-Music, such as the Entremuralhas, a Gothic festival.
Let me share with you a brief history about the origin of the castle:
In 1135, to defend the southern border, King D. Afonso Henrriques built a new castle up high on a rocky elevation, whose garrison, was under the command of D. Pailo Guterres, who was entrusted with defending the new frontier, which the king tried to establish.
By that time, the village also began to grow, and that would designate its castle as Leiria. Two years later, the town and its castle were assaulted by Muslims after a fierce resistance, Paio Guterres and his men were forced to abandon their positions.
The monarch organized a counteroffensive to prevent the progression of the Muslims. At the end of that year, the Muslims, aware that the Portuguese monarch had begun a new campaign against the King of León, Galicia, attacked and conquered Leiria again and its castle, whose supporters, on occasion, suffered heavy casualties.
In 1142, D. Afonso Henriques once again won the battle for the castle. In that same year, the monarch granted the Charter of Foral settlement, determining the rebuilding and strengthening of the castle’s structure, and built a chapel under the invocation of Our Lady of Pena. After losing twice and regaining the castle of Leiria, it finally permanently belonged to Portugal, helping in the conquest of Santarém and Lisbon, thus, in building the country as well.
Like any castle there are legends, here are two about Leiria:
-One legend states that there is a dormant volcano under the castle which is responsible for heating the hot water supply.
-Another says that there is a secret underground passage that allows communication between the castle and a church, on the other side of the city.
A tip, leave the car in the downtown area, walk through the old part of the city, and enjoy the beauty that it offers you.