The Medieval village of Obidos, Portugal is rare but not just for all the reasons listed in guide books …
Yes, it astounded us with its 12th Century Castle and the perfectly preserved wall that surrounds the village.
We stopped in our tracks the first time we passed through the main town gate or Porta da Vila.
Of course, we were breathless for many reasons when we scaled the castle wall gripping any protruding stone or branch to stabilize our ascent.
We couldn’t help but listen with the intent to the story of ten-year-old King Afonso V and his eight-year-old cousin, Isabel, who wedded in the Church of Santa Maria in 1444.
We tasted ginja (sweet cherry liquor) and snacked on warm pão com chouriço (Portuguese bread stuffed with sausage)
Unknowingly, we snapped hundreds of pictures of Narnia like street lamps and bougainvillea dripping from whitewashed villas.
We even bought some medieval village themed souvenirs for the knights and princesses in our life.
Even after all of those experiences, what will stay with us about Óbidos is, while it is no longer a hidden gem, its beauty is still ripening. Some more famous European walled cities we have visited, feel a little like all the attention created less of an authentic glow. Óbidos seems to somehow step into the limelight with effortless and timeless grace. The more attention she gets, the more facets she uncovers, and the more depth and secrets she reveals. It is a feeling we have only experienced a handful of times and it feels like a gift every time it happens.
After the tour busses left for the day, we sat on the wall and waited for the sunset. Our fingers sticky from freshly plucked oranges, we relished the warm cobblestones holding on to the day’s rays, beneath our feet. We lingered as the surrounding vineyards, basking in shifting hues, somehow came into focus for the first time.
As we walked through the village gates in the dark, our hands touching Eighteenth-Century glazed tiles as we passed, we understood why King Dinis gave Óbidos to Queen Isabel as a wedding gift in 1282. While many kings followed suit as the Portuguese Monarchy ebbed and flowed, somehow hundreds of years later, for an American family just passing through, the magic was still visceral.
Hopefully, this once-hidden gem will retain its gracious, welcoming, noble beauty for generations yet to come.