Legend has it that in 1484 Queen D. Leonor, wife of King D. João II, on her way to Batalha, passed by the current spot of Caldas da Rainha and saw a group of people bathing in hot swampy waters. She asked them why they were doing it and was told that those were healing waters that cured many diseases. So, she bathed there too and cured her disease. She decided to build bathing facilities there, as well as the Thermal Hospital of Our Lady of Pópulo, created in 1485, the oldest thermal hospital in the world!
The foundation of Caldas da Rainha is deeply intertwined in the opening of the Thermal Hospital. It influenced the own identity of this city. Moreover, the name “Caldas da Rainha” means “Queen’s thermal springs”.
Bordallo Pinheiro in Caldas da RainhaLearn more
Caldas da Rainha is also famous for ceramics tradition, highly rooted in local culture. Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro is the main ambassador of local ceramics, as well as a symbol of Portuguese identity! Nowadays his works are highly requested in the so-called nostalgia market – “saudade” market – and his mark is the one of a true genius. There is still a tradition of production of popular erotic ceramics in Caldas da Rainha, which is worth mentioning.
In Caldas da Rainha you will find the only daily open-air fruit and vegetable market in the country that takes place in the colourful Praça da Fruta. This iconic market is still held the same place since the 15th century, attracting local producers in a true ode to the freshest and most authentic products. The traditional fruit market waits for you. Every single day of the year.
Park D. Carlos ILearn more
The Park Dom Carlos I is another Crown jewel of this beautiful city. This is a Romantic style garden that surrounds the old thermal hospital, built under the ruling of King D. João V. It was a place for physical rehab, where hospital patients could walk and benefit from its soul-soothing effect. At the end of the 19th century with the rise of bourgeoisie and the development of train connections, the architect Berquó, in charge of the management of the Thermal Hospital, has totally changed the park. It was transformed in a leisure area comprising a central artificial lake, wide and open alleys and a bandstand.
A monastery culture has deeply influenced the gastronomy of Caldas da Rainha and its sweet-tooth delicacies made of eggs, such as “trouxas”, “lampreias”, “cavacas” and “beijinhos”. Local specialities are related to fishing activity in Óbidos Lagoon: eel stew, fish stew and seafood.
Bearing a 5-century long History, Caldas Rainha is still a box of many (exciting) surprises!
In the surroundings of Caldas da Rainha, Foz do Arelho beach offers a perfect location between Óbidos Lagoon and the Atlantic ocean. This is the ideal spot for engaging in nautical sports and fishing. The wooden paths of Foz do Arelho, designed by landscape architect Nádia Schilling, with its belvederes and its sustainable look over the involving natural scenery are a true eye-catching must-see.