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Leiria

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Leiria has a river that runs up, a tower that does not have Sé, a Sé that has no tower and a Rua Direita that is not. (Rima Popular).

For D. Afonso Henriques, first Christian conqueror of Leiria in 1135 and the founder of its castle, the place was the sentinel advanced for its strategy of conquest of Santarém, Sintra and Lisbon to the Moors, which would happen in 1147.

For more than half a century Leiria would again be devastated by the incursions of the Moorish armies and its definitive conquest would only come to pass in the reign of D. Sancho I at the end of the century. XII, giving him the monarch the charter in 1195.

In 1254 D. Afonso III held here the first Cortes with the presence of all procurators of the Kingdom counties, a fact of extreme importance in the History of Portugal, for it was the first time that the people could express their claims to the King.

In the century XIV D. Dinis and especially his wife D. Isabel, the Holy Queen, resided several times in the castle, perhaps because they considered it a pleasant residence with wide views to the charms of the surrounding landscape.

The action of the king was marked by the implantation of the pine forest of Leiria along the coastal zone to protect the sand dunes. Its fiery pines would provide timber and fish for the Portuguese shipbuilding, especially during the period of the Discoveries, and even today this immense green spot is a very pleasant place for a stroll.

Of all the Cortes gathered by the Portuguese monarchs in Leiria the most tragic session will have taken place in those of 1438, convoked by D. Duarte to discuss the delivery of Ceuta in exchange for the liberation of his brother the Infante Santo, D. Fernando, a prisoner in Tangier. The Assembly decided on the sacrifice of the Infante in exchange for the maintenance of the Moroccan square and the king, annihilated by disgust, would die shortly thereafter.

From the medieval castle, the city grew out of walls in the first period marked by the Romanesque Church of St. Peter and then in the 18th century. XVI with the construction of the Cathedral and the Mercy. The city then expanded to the Lis River and its leafy banks accommodated various religious buildings.

But only in the century. XIX the city of Leiria would develop again with the establishment of the bourgeoisie very well portrayed by Eça de Queirós, who here imagines the “Crime of Padre Amaro”, and above all by the action of Ernesto Korrodi, who endeavored to value the city. From then until today our modern and disorderly urbanization has changed the city into an expanding industrial center.

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