THE TOWN OF ERICEIRA
LEGEND HAS IT THAT THE NAME ERICEIRA ORIGINALLY MEANT 'LAND OF URCHINS', DUE TO THE NUMEROUS SEA URCHINS THAT COULD BE FOUND ON ITS BEACHES.
In the 19th century, Ericeira had huge trading importance: it had the fourth largest customs house in the kingdom, after Lisbon, Porto and Setúbal. The cargo ships that sailed from Ericeira were 20 metres long, and had three or four masts. On 5 October 1910 Dom Manuel II, the last king of Portugal, set sail from the Praia dos Pescadores here for exile in England, while in Lisbon the Republic was proclaimed. The Praça da República marks the centre of the old town. With its cafés and pastry shops it is Ericeira's most touristy spot. Diving into the streets and alleys here, with their whitewashed, blue-trimmed houses, is still the best way to discover the charms of the old fishing village.
JOSÉ FRANCO MUSEUM VILLAGE
José Franco (1920-2009), a potter from the Sobreiro area, realised a dream in the 1960s: the recreation of a village that would preserve memories of his local childhood. He did this with his own hands, building a tiny replica village with ist old workshops and stores, decorated with period objects and life-size figures.
The museum village has an area dedicated to children, with miniature houses and inhabitants busy in their daily tasks, in the fields or in age-old trades such as carpentry. The young ones will also enjoy the little village castle, which includes a playground and agricultural tools for them to play with.
Opening hours: Summer 9.30am-7pm. Winter 9.30am-6pm. Free admission.
VILLAGE OF MATA PEQUENA
A DOZEN OR SO HOUSES MAKE UP THIS SMALL RURAL VILLAGE, WITH WHITEWASHED WALLS AND STREETS PAVED WITH FLAGSTONES.
Aldeia da Mata Pequena is a village converted into a haven for visitors to rest and be in contact with nature, just outside Lisbon. It is a treasure trove of traditional saloia regional architecture, right in the middle of the Penedo do Lexim Special Protection Area, which has been carefully preserved and restored. Anyone strolling through the village has the sensation of being in an open-air museum, where the way of life of yesteryear is preserved in the smells, colours and traditions. The houses are the best example of this, resulting as they do from extensive researching and collecting work that wins over everyone who visits.
AZENHAS DO MAR
ABOUT HALF AN HOUR AWAY BY CAR IS THIS SEASIDE VILLAGE, WITH ITS HOUSES PERCHED ON THE CLIFFSIDE.
Azenhas, as this place is known, is a landscape that is unique in the world. With a range of good restaurants, landscapes and natural spaces, the village is a must-see for all types of travelers, but especially those who like to eat well. You can venture out for a swim in the sea or, if you prefer calmer waters, in the seawater pool just above the beach here. The village is connected, via coastal footpaths, with the Cabo da Roca headland and Ericeira. Nearby, at Praia das Maçãs, you can catch the old streetcar that goes all the way to the town of Sintra, inland.
IN THE 19TH CENTURY SINTRA WAS A MAGNET FOR THE PORTUGUESE NOBILITY AND ELITE, AND TODAY THE ROMANTIC ARCHITECTURE STILL RECALLS THE CHARM OF THAT PAST.
A visit to Sintra must include a walk through the streets of the town, where you can discover beautiful corners and period buildings, as well as a visit to the various palaces and idyllic gardens laid out in the area. The Palace of Monserrate, the Chalet and Garden of the Countess of Edla, the Quinta da Regaleira and the Pena Palace are all elements of this array of Romantic architecture left behind by the nobility and bourgeoisie of the past and for which the town of Sintra are known. Sintra was the first Cultural Landscape in Europe to be classified as such by UNESCO, in 1995. A half-hour drive away.
THE MEDIEVAL TOWN OF ÓBIDOS IS ONE OF THE MOST PICTURESQUE AND BEST PRESERVED IN PORTUGAL.
Located on a high point, near the Atlantic coast, Óbidos had a strategic importance for Portugal. Since a 13th-century king, Dom Dinis, made a present of it to his wife, Dona Isabel, it has belonged to the House of Queens, which under various dynasties benefited and enriched it. This is one of the main reasons why there are so many churches in this little town. Within the walls are a well-preserved castle and a labyrinth of streets and white houses that enchant visitors who stroll among them. With its Manueline (Portuguese late-Gothic) porches, flower-bedecked windows and small squares, there are several reasons to visit, including good examples of religious and civil architecture from the town's golden age. Another attraction is the famous Ginjinha de Óbidos, a sour-cherry liqueur, which can be enjoyed in several places, preferably in a chocolate cup. An hour away by car.