The town of Obidos looks like a medieval movie set. The high fortified walls encircle narrow lanes of gleaming white houses, decorated with zig-zag blue and yellow patterns. The town overflows with lilac, bougenvilla, camellias and citrus trees and the golden towers and ramparts overlook the rolling hills dotted with stone windmills and valleys full of vineyards. The Moors' Castle of Obidos, with its carefully preserved many towers, battlements and big gates has been converted into a palace in the 16th century and is now a luxurious inn and restaurant. The castle is one of Portugal's greatest medieval castles with many elements of Manueline architecture. Obidos' impressive 18th century blue tiles line the much photographed walls within the southern gate known as Porta da Villa, which is the town's main entrance.
Obidos' first inhabitants were the Celts who settled here in 308 BC. In the first century AD, the Romans took over, followed by the Visigoths in the 5th century, and the Moors in the 8th century. In 1148 King Afonso Henriques claimed the town when his troops, disguised as cherry trees, captured the Moorish stronghold. The Moors were driven from the country and Afonso Henriques was crowned as Portugal's first king. In 1228, the poet king Dinis gave the town to his wife Dona Isabel as a wedding present and established a royal custom for the town to be presented to the queen along with other jewels. Queen Isabel was later to become the famous subject of the "miracle of the roses" and Obidos became known as "the town of the queens".
The fairytale town of Obidos is proud of its association with the renowned 16th century Portuguese painter Josefa de Obidos, who left one of the finest legacies of work of any Portuguese painter. Josefa de Obidos excelled in richly colored still lifes and detailed religious works and her accomplished paintings are unique in their personal interpretation of religious themes and in their sense of innocence. Some remaining works of de Obidos can be admired in the town's Igreja de Santa Maria church.