Pombal is a place of legends, history and eminent people! Among other illustrious people, the all powerful Marquês de Pombal stood out!
It is a town that belongs to the district of Leiria. It has 11000 people and won the title of city in 1991. There are many tourist attractions that you should visit in this town. Among others, we highlight the castle, the national bear forest and the picnic park. In this article we will tell you everything worth knowing, doing and visiting in Pombal.
WHERE IS POMBAL?
If you live in Lisbon, it will take you 1h43 (by highway) to get to Pombal (170 kilometers). If you live in Porto, it will take you 1h29 to make the trip that connects the city of Porto to the city of Pombal (160 kilometers away).
WHAT TO VISIT IN POMBAL?
The list of attractions is extensive. We have prepared a map for you so that you can organize the sequence of your visits more efficiently. We hope you find it useful!
Pombal castle was part of the so-called “defensive belt of Mondego”, which also included the defensive fortifications of Soure, Penela, Miranda do Corvo, Arouce, Germanelo and Montemor. It was erected with the purpose of guarding and protecting the access roads to the city of Coimbra. It was the most advanced point of defense of the famous Mondego defense line. Its strategic location made this castle a key element in the defensive process. The town of Pombal originated when its castle was built (by order of Gualdim Pais between 1156 and 1171 – the exact date is unknown). Inside it, structures were built for the life of the clergy (a church and a temple). It was attacked during the French invasion and was heavily damaged. It remained in a ruinous state for long years. In the 20th century, it underwent a restoration that culminated in the structure we can admire today. A castle worthy of your visit and that is a remarkable presence in the city’s surroundings. TIMETABLE: From April to September: from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm to 7pm | From October to March: from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm to 5pm
POMBAL MAIN CHURCH
Pombal’s main church is a very old monument. It suffered a renovation in 1520 and another one in 1816 (after being devastated by the French invasions). The exterior of the monument is quite simple and contrasts with a very beautiful interior. In 1323 King Dinis and King Afonso (his son) signed a peace treaty with the mediation of Queen Santa Isabel. This historical fact is depicted in a tile panel inside the church.
OSSO DA BALEIA BEACH
The curious name of the beach (whale bone), is related to the appearance of a whalebone that washed ashore there at the beginning of the 20th century. It has held the award of “Golden Beach” since 1998. The distinction is due to its unique natural features (geological characteristics, fauna and flora). Since 2004 it has had the “blue flag”, a title that proves the quality of the beach (water and sand). If you enjoy walking, you will be happy to know that the “Lagoa de São José Trail” and the “Green Whale Trail” pass through here. It is also considered an “accessible beach” because it offers facilities for those with reduced mobility.
MARQUÊS DE POMBAL MUSEUM
Marques de Pombal Museum was founded in 1978 and opened to the public on May 8, 1982 (precisely 2 centuries after the death of the Marques, whose name was Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo). It is located in the Paços do Concelho (former Santo António Convent). The collection was donated by a private individual under the condition of creating a museum. This would have the obligation to conserve and promote the donated items and should be called the Marquês de Pombal Museum. In 2004, the collection was transferred to the Old Jail, which underwent extensive renovations in order to house the museum. The jail and the museum are two important tourist attractions widely visited in the city of Pombal.
Pombal’s water park has 6 different slides. Since it is located in an elevated area, it offers visitors a magnificent view of the mountain range that extends to the sea. The Aquapark of Pombal opens its doors in the beginning of June and closes in the last days of September. The park offers lockers and changing rooms, bar, shower and jacuzzi, a semi-Olympic pool, a large relaxation area and a capacity of up to 7000 people. It has several price options starting at 6€. If you would like more information please visit the park’s website.
MUSEUM OF PORTUGUESE FOLK ART
The museum of popular art had its origin in the Portuguese World Exhibition (in Belém, Lisbon) in 1940. At that time, Salazar had a pavilion built dedicated to “Popular Life. The museum that exists today is a reformulation of this pavilion. It was designed by António Ferro (responsible for propaganda for the New State) in 1946 and opened its doors in 1948. The different spaces of the museum recreate the different regions of Portugal. There, you can see murals that recreate scenes from Portuguese life. Scenes that evoke the people in celebration, the people in their daily lives or in acts of faith (pilgrimages). Don’t forget also to observe the museum’s exterior walls. There, you can observe rural scenes elaborated through low-relief constructions.
MONUMENT TO THE EMIGRANT OF POMBAL
It is a monument that honors the emigrants of Pombal. It consists of three statues representing an emigrant family on a pier shaped like Portugal. The statues are set in stone and the work was inaugurated in 2004.
NOSSA SENHORA DO CARDAL CHURCH
Baroque church built in the 17th century by the Count of Castelo Melhor. The façade is imposing and beautiful. Inside the church, the columns of the chancel attract all the attention. It was in this church that the Marquis of Pombal lived. The marquis died in 1782 and his body was only transferred in 1856 by order of a grandson. Since then his remains have been in the Ermida da Mercês in Lisbon.
SÃO MARTINHO CHURCH
It is the main church of Pombal. Very old monument that was rebuilt in 1520. In 1816 it was heavily renovated as a consequence of the devastation of the French troops (French revolution). The exterior walls of the church are very simple. They contrast with a very rich and very beautiful interior. In 1323 Dom Dinis and his son (Dom Afonso) signed a peace treaty in this church. This historical event is represented in a huge panel of modern tiles above the arch. The side chapel is called Nossa Senhora da Piedade and was built in 1551.
MATA NACIONAL DO URSO
The name of the forest is due to a legend that describes an eventual fight between Dom Dinis and a bear. The Queen Saint Isabel church (in Coimbra) has an image that alludes to this story. It is a huge forested area that lies between Pedrógão and Leirosa. Pine trees dominate the landscape (although eucalyptus is also present). The pine forest was planted in ancient times to conserve the dunes and build the boats that were used at the time of the discoveries. Dom Afonso III started planting the pine trees in the 13th century but it was Dom Dinis who intensified this process. In this forest we can find wild rabbits, foxes, partridges, blackbirds, turtle doves, … If you like to walk, you will find inside the Bear Forest the trail of the Lagoa de São José and the trail of the green whale. The Lagoa dos linhos (and the wonderful scents that surround it) is also an attraction of this forest area.
The municipality of Pombal has several high quality picnic parks. To wit: Green Park of Açude, Leisure Park of Vale da Sobreira, Cotrofe Park, Ilha Leisure Park, Fonte da Pedra Park.
Quinta da Gramela is 3 kilometers from Pombal It was built in the 17th century and was inherited by the (barbarian) Marquis of Pombal who used it as a country house. A manor house with two floors, a chapel and patio that housed the Marquis’ servants and storage area. Nowadays the Quinta is used as event spaces: weddings and baptisms.
REDINHA ROMAN BRIDGE
From Pombal to the Romanesque bridge of Redinha is a distance of 12 kilometers, a distance that can be covered in 12 minutes by car. One more bridge built by the Romans in Portugal. Made up of 3 arches. It is in a very pleasant place and invites to a walk. Very nice.
The mountain rises to 553 meters and is a fabulous example of a karst landscape (limestone formations). The caves that erupt inside the mountain and give the mountain a unique beauty stand out. A green mountain range (the stone pine is king in this area) with pedestrian trails. A great option for a walk after a well watered lunch.
Aldeia do Vale is located by the mountain range of Sicó. A place that dates back to the middle ages and holds the title of oldest village in the region. It presents itself with a limestone architecture. Its main attractions are the chapel, the fountain and the animal trough (more than a century old and renovated in 1997).
CONVENT CHURCH OF LOURIÇAL
The construction of the convent began in 1690 but was completed in the 18th century. The convent (dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament) operated until 1911. After this date, it housed the GNR and was later sold to the Poor Clare nuns. The church is of large dimensions, its exterior is very simple and inside the ceiling (where we can see a painting depicting the consecration of the host) and the walls of the nave (covered with tiles) stand out.
Vale do Poio is a place for adventurers and shepherds! It is little known by most people (even those who live in Pombal). This fact explains the proliferation of fauna in the region. A pedestrian path that crosses a diverse vegetation and where you can smell unique aromas. A pedestrian path full of geomorphologic singularities and where you can also visit the chapel of nossa senhora da estrela.
Jumping, sliding, climbing in Pombal! The Planet of the Jokers makes the joy of the little ones. A place of indoor fun for boys and girls between 1st and 12th grade. Slides, inflatables, ball pools and much more. Great for tiring the kids and resting the parents! Very clean space and friendly people.
Pombal’s theater-cine was built by a group of citizens who, after a cyclone devastated the old wooden theater, decided to build the theater-cine in the 40s of the last century. A beautiful space, with good conditions, a nice atmosphere and an interesting program. All the staff is extremely friendly.
BODO FESTIVITIES IN POMBAL
They are the most important festivals in Pombal and take place in July/August. Their origins are so remote that they have faded with the passage of time. Legend has it that the festivities are related to a plague of locusts and lizards that attacked Pombal. To get rid of the vermin, the people of Pombal went to the church of São Pedro and there began their prayers that ended up in the chapel of Our Lady of Jerusalem. They promised a party to Our Lady if she would rid them of the plague. A hit and miss! The next morning there was no sign of the verdinhos! And so the festivities of Bodo were born! Spectacular!
POMBAL CASTLE VIRTUAL TOUR
WHAT TO VISIT NEAR POMBAL?
The list of places to visit in Pombal is quite extensive. So that you can calmly see everything that deserves to be seen, we suggest a 3-day stay. If you have some time left or if you stay on the road, we suggest you also visit the following places. All of them are unmissable.
49 minutes and 63 kilometers separate Pombal from Nazaré. Nowadays it is impossible to talk about Nazaré without talking about giant waves and the thousands of people it attracts every year. But there is much more to see in this Portuguese village. If you accept our suggestion don’t forget to also see: the Nazaré site, the Ermida, the Suberco viewpoint, the São Miguel Arcanjo fort and Pederneira. But there is much more to see and do. If you want to know everything about this fantastic place, click on the image and you will have access to our article about Nazaré.
From Pombal to Figueira da Foz is a distance of 51 kilometers, a distance that can be covered in 34 minutes by car. It is in the queen of the Silver Coast that we find one of the most impressive beaches in the country: the Clarity Beach. If you visit Figueira don’t forget to see also: the Fort of Santa Catarina, the Lighthouse of Cabo Mondego, the Old lighthouse, the Lagoons of the National Forest, the Figueira Casino, Sotto Mayor Palace and the municipal museum Doctor Santos Rocha. Click on the image to read our article about Figueira.
To go from Pombal to Ferreira do Zêzere you will need only 45 minutes (a distance of 59 kilometers). A very small effort to get to know an absolutely breathtaking place. A hidden pearl worthy of a fairy tale. Breathtaking green landscapes, the incredible Dornes peninsula, walks, monuments, gastronomy, the friendliness of the locals. A place that has to be at the top of your list of places to visit. Click on the image to read our article about Ferreira do Zêzere.
53 minutes and 73 kilometers is the distance that separates Pombal from the city of Tomar, a mysterious and beautiful place. When we think of Tomar we think of Templars and knights. We think of castles, the incredible Convent of Christ and all the stories and legends that have stood the test of time. Visiting Tomar is much more than a tour. It is a trip to the past and a journey of knowledge and culture. But Tomar has even more to offer: fluvial beaches, green landscapes and a vast gastronomic and hotel offer. A perfect place to spend a weekend!
HISTORY OF POMBAL
No historian has clearly identified the exact date of the first settlement of inhabitants in this region. It is likely that the first groups to inhabit the region did so during the Neolithic era (from the 10th century to the 3rd century BC). Much more consensual is the acceptance of the presence of Romans in the region. During the restoration work on the castle, several coins were found which attest to this presence in the region. In 1174, the Order of the Temple granted a charter to Pombal and a letter of privileges in 1181. In 1509, Dom Manuel had the castle restored and granted a new charter to the city in 1512. The all powerful Marquis of Pombal lived here from 1777 to 1782. He was responsible for the urban planning of the lower town and ordered the construction of the jail, the old square and the granary).
In 1811, the French invasions almost totally destroyed the settlement. Twenty-two years later (1833), it was the turn of the cholera-morbus to finish what the French tried to do: make Pombal a ghostly place! The road was totally destroyed and those in charge were only concerned with the steam sea connections between Lisbon and Oporto. This decision completely isolated the town. It was necessary to wait until 1855 for the railways to re-establish the connection of Pombal with the main cities of the country. In the 2nd half of the 20th century, everything changed! Its central location in the country brought new roads and industries to the region. Construction, commerce and services skyrocketed! Today it is one of the most prosperous cities in the center of the country.
In Pombal you must try the codfish “à Marquês de Pombal” and the “Arrubacão” (beans, rice, meat, qualho cheese and coriander). If you like desserts, be sure to try the arrufadas, the rodilha cakes, the olive oil cookies, the Louriçal pastries and the walnut cake.
MANJAR DO MARQUÊS RESTAURANT
It presents itself as a 2-digit (€€) restaurant out of a maximum of 3. It has over 5270 (!!) reviews on Google and an overall rating of 4.3 (out of a maximum of 5 stars).
The tomato rice and the codfish fritters are highly praised. Approximate price: 20€ per person.
HOTELS IN POMBAL
3 star hotel (but with a 4 star appearance). It is 3 minutes (walk) from Pombal train station and 8 minutes from the castle. It has 350 reviews on Google and an overall rating of 4.5 stars (out of 5). The rooms are very large, very elegant and with a terrace. It has (probably) the best price-quality ratio in town.