Obidos – Estremadura, Portugal

The Town That Belonged to the Queens of Portugal

Wrapped in a Moorish wall, the tiny whitewashed village of Obidos was deemed so lovely that it became a queen’s dowry. In 1282 King Dinis presented Queen Isabel with the fief as a wedding present, and for the next 600 years, every Portuguese monarch would do the same, perpetuating its name, Casa das Rainhas, the House of Queens.

Obidos is a museum of a town, a national mon­ument so picturesque it can convince any vis­itor—and they are legion—that he or she can be a great photographer. The town features ramparts built by the Moors as crenellated bat­tlements, which are almost 3/5 of a mile in cir­cumference, and a stroll along the wide walkway at the top provides spectacular views of Obidos and the countryside beyond.

The imposing 15th-century castle was built as a fortress, and converted into a royal palace in the 16th century. Now one wing has been transformed into a nine-room pousada, and you can be a knight for a night in one of Portugal’s most atmospheric hotels.

The baro­nial hall is filled with suits of armor, and one can imagine the visiting queens of the past and their royal retinues. The restaurant serves food for a more plebeian palate, but you can feast on the views alone, and best of all, overnight guests have the town to themselves before the tour buses arrive and after they depart.

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