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CALDAS DA RAINHA

City of holy waters

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The city, also known as “Rainha Thermal Stations”, evolved around the first thermal hospital built by D. Leonor in 1485. Legend has it that during a trip between Óbidos and Batalha, the Queen and her court passed by a place where people bathed in smelly hot waters. The Queen was eager to know why so many people would bathe in such unpleasantly smelly waters, since it was quite unusual in those times that people would bathe at all. They told her that they were sick, but those waters had healing powers. The Queen, who han an ulcer, also took a bath in the sulphurous waters, and found a cure. In the following year, she ordered the construction of a Thermal Hospital (Caldas Royal Hospital), was managed by her. The waters have been studied since the 16th century. Researchers concluded that they were appropriate for the treatment of several diseases (rheumatism, respiratory and muscle diseases). Caldas da Rainha became tremendously famous in the 18th century, under the ruling period of D. Joao V, who rebuilt and enlarged the hospital, and spent here the rest of his life with his family, enjoying the thermal waters. This region is rich in clay, leading to the creation of ceramics factories. The city was transformed in one of Portugal’s major ceramics centres. Worth highlighting, are the creations of prominent 19th century artist, Rafael Bordado Pinheiro, the creator of the popular character “Zé Povinho”. The city is famous for its ceramics pottery of popular characteristics, such as sprout-shaped dishes oval dishes, other in form of vegetables and fruits, along with coloured dinner sets, small or large ceramich characters, either erotic of humorous. If you are visiting Caldas da Rainha, you must go to the patisseries of Liberdade Street, a pedestrian zone, and taste the famous egg-based local sweet specialities “cavacas”, “beijinhos” or “trouxas de ovos”. The daily market of fruits and vegetables cannot be missed. However, there is more to city’s attractions, apart from thermal tourism and ceramics. Along its coastal line, Foz do Areho beach and Óbidos Lagoon are noteworthy.

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