Leiria

Leiria has a river that flows uphill, a tower that does not have a cathedral, a cathedral that does not have a tower, and a High Street that is not straight. (According to a popular Portuguese rhyme.) For Dom Afonso Henriques, the first Christian conqueror of Leiria in 1135 and the founder of its castle, the town was the advance guard for his strategy of conquering Santarém, Sintra and Lisbon from the Moors, which took place in 1147.

We are all a bit fed up with huge shopping centres, lacking daylight and character, where every single soul goes on Sunday when it’s raining. In Center of Portugal, we have a very special antidote for that: a charming city called Leiria that could well be the shopping Mecca of the region! All the shops that matter are located in beautiful artistic buildings, some of them quite glamorous and noble, at the heart of the city. So it’s time to hit the shops of Leiria, a smart buying city! We are not shopaholics, we’re improving the economy! 

There are 4 main shopping districts in Leiria that will surely catch your eye focused on the following areas: Rodrigues Lobo Square, Sant’Ana Square, Castle district and riverside district! You can easily discover the city and its shopping delights on foot, feeling the sun on your face and taking time for a nice cup of coffee at the inviting city squares!

1. Rodrigues Lobo Square
This is actually the main square of the city, a true meeting point for locals and visitors. The place to enjoy the wonders of al fresco life. Housed in beautiful glamorous buildings, world brands can be found at the blink of an eye.

Garage building is an outstanding example of art nouveau style, dating back to the first decade of the 20th century, designed by Augusto Romão, who worked with prestigious Swiss architect Ernesto Korrodi. The  refurbishment project was later carried out by Portuguese architect Sara Saragoça Soares. Nowadays the building houses the Spanish brand Bershka.

In Cónego Maia Square, another charming building of the beginning of the 20th century (1911) created by Augusto Romão, which is one fine example of art nouveau style. The brand Desigual is housed on the ground floor.

The former building of the Bishop Palace is one of the most enchanting examples of this shopping district. The renovation project has the signature of world acclaimed Portuguese architect Carrilho da Graça, led in 2000. The Spanish brand Zara has its home in this memorable building.

Built in the end of the 19th century, the former headquarters of the Athenäum of Leiria is a charming example of the Marquis de Pombal architecture. This beautiful pink building is a true inspiration for Instagramers!

The Zúquets building dates back to the emd of the 19th century. In 1908 it was transformed and enlarged by the architect Ernesto Korrodi. Nowadays you will find very nice restaurants in this area.
If you’re fond of home-made ice-creams, you must go to Fior di Latte, housed in the former palace of Guerra family.

2. Sant’Ana Square
Located at the heart of the historical centre of Leiria, Sant’Ana square is a quite busy spot of the city, mainly because of the beautiful Sant’Ana Market, a roaring cultural centre offering interesting events all year long.
In this district you will see outstanding examples of modernist architecture, dating back to the first decades of the 20th century, designed by architect Santa Rita. Housed in these amazing buildings, several restaurants, shops and charming cafés.

3. Castle district
There is something quite unique about the castle of Leiria, some sort of mysterious aura, attracting the Gothic tribes every year in August for a dark yet exciting music festival called Entremuralhas (literally, within the castle walls). In the castle quarter, you will see fine examples of street art depicting major novels of Portuguese literature, along with inviting shops and pleasant cafés, where you can surrender to the Southern European way of life: finding pleasure in the small things and living life to the fullest!

4. River district
If you think that the only sport in Leiria is window shopping, think twice! By the river Lis – that unlike other rivers, it flows to the North (another curiosity of Leiria) – there is a pleasant area, ideal for biking and walking. In this area you can visit two amazing museums: Museum of Leiria and the Paper Mill Museum, two cultural references of the city.

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