Leiria in Portugal

Friday, 15 January 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General

© Fulviusbsas

© Fulviusbsas

Leiria is a city and a municipality in the Centro Region of Portugal and in the historical province of Beira Litoral. It is the capital of Leiria District. The population in 2011 was 126,879, in an area of 565.09 square kilometres (218.18 sq mi). It is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leiria-Fátima.

Leiria is located in the Centro Region and sub region of Pinhal Litoral, about halfway between Lisbon and Porto. The distance to Lisbon is 137 kilometres (85 miles), to Coimbra 70 kilometres (43 miles) and to Porto 177 kilometres (110 miles). The historic city centre spreads between the castle hill and the river Lis. Leiria is also included in the Região de Leiria. As the main city in this community, the area of influence of Leiria spreads over the cities of Marinha Grande, Ourém, Fátima, Pombal as well the municipalities/town seats of Batalha and Porto de Mós located nearby.

The name “Leiria” in Portuguese derives from ‘leira’ meaning an area with small farming plots. It was occupied for a short time by the Suebi in 414 until they were forced by the Romans to retreat to Galicia and later incorporated by Leovigild into the Visigoths kingdom in 585 A.D. Later the Moors occupied the area until it was re-captured by the first King of Portugal, Afonso Henriques in 1135, during the Reconquista. South of Leiria in that period was the so-called “no-man’s land”, until regions further south (like Santarém and Lisbon) were permanently taken and re-populated by the Christians. In 1142 Afonso Henriques gave Leiria its first foral (compilation of feudal rights) to stimulate the colonisation of the region. Both Afonso I of Portugal and Sancho I rebuilt the walls and the Leiria Castle to avoid new enemy incursions. Most of the population lived inside the protective city walls, but already in the 12th century part of the population lived outside the walls. The oldest church of Leiria, the Church of Saint Peter (Igreja de São Pedro), built in romanesque style in the last quarter of the 12th century, served the parish located outside the walls.

© Jocelyn Erskine-Kellie/cc-by-sa-2.0 Main square and Leiria Castle © flickr.com - pereiraalexandre20/cc-by-2.0 © JMFH4778/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Fulviusbsas Castle of Leiria © JMFH4778/cc-by-sa-3.0 © flickr.com - Sergei Gussev/cc-by-2.0
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Main square and Leiria Castle © flickr.com - pereiraalexandre20/cc-by-2.0
Compared to the Middle Ages, the subsequent history of Leiria is of relative decay. The city was stormed by the Peninsular War, namely in 1808 (the killing of Portela, by the troops of Gen. Margaron) and the Great Fire of 1811, caused by the Napoleonic troops retreating from the Lines of Torres Vedras. In the 20th century, however, its strategic position in the Portuguese territory favoured the development of a diversified industry.

In addition to being a site of historical interest, the castle of Leiria provides a venue for cultural events. Nearby is the Church of Saint Peter (Igreja de São Pedro), the site of the city’s annual music festival. Leiria is home to the Museu da imagem em movimento (Museum of the Moving Image) as well as Portugal’s restored first paper mill, Moinho do Papel (The Paper Mill), the Theatre Miguel Franco in the Mercado de Sant’Ana (Saint Anne’s Market) are venues for theatrical, musical, cinematic and dance performances. Today the central square, Praça Francisco Rodrigues Lobo, named after the Portuguese poet Francisco Rodrigues Lobo, is home to a thriving café culture, regularly used for cultural events. The city was the principal residence of the Portuguese king, Denis, who wrote lyric poetry in the troubadour tradition, and the birthplace of the modern realist writer Eça de Queiroz, whose first novel, O Crime do Padre Amaro (“Father Amaro’s Sin”), published in 1875, is set in the city.

Read more on Leiria, VisitPortugal.com – Leiria, Wikivoyage Leiria and Wikipedia Leiria (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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