Castle of Obidos – The 4-Star Hotel (History & Travel Tips)

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A magnificent medieval structure in the midst of a walled town, the Castle of Obidos lets you travel back in time to witness the essence of early settlements in Southern Europe. The town’s beautiful landscape along with the marvelous, well-preserved architecture make this site a definite must-visit. Here’s everything you need to know about it:

(A Note to Our Readers: in this article, you will note an extensive use of “D.” in titles, of both people and places. Short for “Dom/Dona,” the use of this honorific is a mark of particular respect entirely apart from any noble titles. Of further interest to note is that Dom/Dona is personal, always with the given name rather than a family name and never by itself as “Mister” might be.)

The castle’s architecture appears to have Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque, and Manueline influences.

A closer view of some part of Obidos Castle.
A closer view of some part of Obidos Castle.

Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

Origins and Early Conquests

The origins of the earliest structures of this castle lie in the mysterious, fortified settlement on the Luso-Roman Castro called the Eburobrittium. The Muslims fortified the region during the 8th century and had the castle in their possession. On January 10, 1148, Alfonso I’s forces conquered the area in what came to be known as the Reconquista. The castle was partially taken at that time, and then fully conquered in 1195 by Sancho I. King Sancho I had the walls of the castle reconstructed and turned the Albarra Tower of the castle into a jail. 

A painting of Sancho.
A painting of Sancho. unknwomn, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1210, Alfonso II, who succeeded Sancho I, gave the castle to his wife D. Urraca. Later in the 13th century, the castle was faced with an assault from the forces of the Count of Bologna, during which people of the region and the inhabitants of the castle resisted successfully, maintaining their faithfulness to Sancho II. 

Modifications

A lot of other fortifications were constructed on the castle grounds as the settlement expanded, including two towers: Torre Atalaia and Torre de D. Fernando. The dungeons were connected to the Church of Santiago gallery as part of the construction process. In the late 14th century the Portuguese succession crisis took place, during which the castle came under the control of John I of Castille. 

A panoramic view of Obidos Castle’s front facade.
A panoramic view of Obidos Castle’s front facade. Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the 15th century during the tenure of King D. John II, people started settling and began construction towards the west and south of the castle. Queen Leonor chose to reside in the castle after the passing of her son Infante D. Alfonso due to the availability of thermal water in the region. King John II’s successor, Manuel I, made donations to the town which resulted in improvements to the town as well as the castle. The Paços do Alcaide was renovated and the walls of the castle were improved. 

19th Century Onwards

The castle was also involved in the Peninsular War in which the earliest rounds of artillery were fired from the fort in the Battle of Rolica in 1808. The Albarra Tower was converted into a clock tower in 1842. A staircase was built in 1869 to access the D. Fernando Tower from the outside.

A closer look of the architectural structure of the Obidos Castle tower.
A closer look of the architectural structure of the Obidos Castle tower. Alvesgaspar, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Current Times

In the 20th century, the Directorate-General for National Monuments and Buildings consolidated and renovated the town’s structures, including the castle, but later abandoned the project. In 1948, the castle was turned into a hotel. In 1955, the castle was declared a National Monument and decorated and furnished.

The Castle of Obidos and its surrounding geography.
The Castle of Obidos and its surrounding geography. Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Currently, the castle is a popular tourist destination in Portugal. It hosts multitudes of visitors each day. The Palace of Alcaldes inside the fort is currently a four-star hotel, which invites tourists to book a room and enjoy some more time there.

Interesting Castle of Obidos Facts

  • The castle’s architecture appears to have Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque, and Manueline influences.
  • The fountains of the walled town are supplied water through a 3 km (1.86 miles) long aqueduct emerging from the Mountains of Usseria. It was built by Catherine of Austria in the 16th century.
  • The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 caused a lot of structural damage to the castle, necessitating a renovation.

Visiting Castle of Obidos – Tips and Tricks

The Castle of Obidos is a wonderful tourist destination, specifically revamped to cater to modern needs. If you’re visiting Portugal, then you should definitely put it in your itinerary. Here’s everything you need to plan your visit:

The Castle of Obidos surrounded by visiting tourists.
The Castle of Obidos surrounded by visiting tourists. Óbidos flickr photo by ‘Burnout’ shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

How to get to Castle of Obidos?

The cheapest way to get to the Castle of Obidos from Lisbon is via train, with rates as low as €7 ($8 USD). The journey to the station at Obidos would take 2 hours and 20 minutes, plus a further 17-minute walk to the castle.

Taking the bus is the second cheapest option. You would have to take the bus from Martin Monez to Campo Grande and then transfer to another bus at Campo Grande to head on towards Obidos. From the bus station, it is a 7-minute walk to the castle. The journey would cost around €11-€16.5 EUR ($13-$19 USD).

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

While there is no specific ticketing for the castle, you can get a full-day guided tour to Obidos from Lisbon in a range of prices starting from €35 ($41 USD) per person. The entrance to the castle is free.

However, if you’re planning a stay at the Hotel Pousada Castelo de Obidos (the 4-star hotel within the castle), then the cheapest room is €141 ($165 USD) per night. You can avail of free Wi-Fi, get room service, and visit the castle surroundings and medieval village at your leisure.

The castle is open on weekdays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, while on Saturday it is open for 24 hours. On Sundays, the timings are 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

The walled town of Obidos with the castle beyond.
The walled town of Obidos with the castle beyond. Pedro Ribeiro Simões from Lisboa, Portugal, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

The castle itself would take 2 to 3 hours to tour. To get the full experience and tour the whole walled city, however, spending a whole day in the area is recommended.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • If you wish to avoid large crowds, visit the castle early in the morning before the tour buses arrive.
  • Search up on festival dates to catch and experience a fun visit filled with cultural events and delicious food.
  • You can buy the cutest souvenirs from local vendors in the city!

Quick Video Tour of The Main Castle of Obidos Areas

Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira is an architect and designer on paper, but a writer at heart. She’s got a Bachelors in Architecture and a passion for traveling, both of which combine in her writings about timeworn castles and fortresses that have withstood the tests of time and stand proud to this day.

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