A striking royal castle, built in 1135 by the first king of Portugal Dom Afonso Henriques, hangs above the graceful city of Leiria. The castle was restored in the early 14th century, when it gained a fine keep and graceful loggia, with eight ogival arches fixed on twofold pillars. The castle commands a magnificent view over the city, namely the charming old town, with small dwellings over archways and elegant arcades.
It is also worth admiring the small Romanesque Church of St. Peter (12th century), the 16th-century Cathedral with an archaeology museum on its premises, Our Lady of Pena Church (Gothic) and the grand stairway leading to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Incarnation (16th century), from the same century. Crossed by the river Lis and its branch, the whole region is characterized by fertile fields and forests, namely pinewoods, which provide a landscape of unusual amenity and soothing shades of green. The Leiria pine forest, a long coastal pine forest planted by king Dinis to supply wood for ship building, extends northwards to the beach of Pedrógão, quite popular during the Summer, while the nearby lagoon of Ervideira offers good fishing.
Leiria is set between Lisbon and Oporto with the country’s largest motorway (A1) crossing it in the north-south direction It is placed at the central section of the Portuguese coastline, where intense reflections on the water lend their name to Costa de Prata (Silver Coast).