Like present-day visitors to Leiria, the monarchs who once stayed here have long enjoyed the city’s countryside, castle and verandas.
The river Lis runs through the city, lending it a unique charm and supporting local industry. A ceramic tile panel still marks the site of a paper-mill built in 1411 on its banks, the first paper “factory” in Portugal. It’s still working today, producing flour.
The local Cathedral has a strange story, its bell-tower is not part of the main building but situated in a street nearby, where a gateway once led into the castle. Leiria has more surprises too, like the Rua Direita or ‘straight street’ - that is actually not straight at all. This crooked road winds through the town centre, leading off Praça Rodrigues Lobo, an ideal location to relax on an esplanade under the 16th Century arcades.
Several interesting buildings lend interest to these excellent shopping streets; some of them restored or designed by the Swiss architect Ernesto Korrodi in the first half of the 20th Century.
The popular local nursery rhyme about ‘straight street’ does not mention the castle at all, yet this is Leiria’s most imposing medieval monument. The castle has a dark and fascinating history, such as the stories of the Court of King Duarte in 1438. When his brother Dom Fernando who was held prisoner, the King was said to have died of a broken heart.