Starting point: Igreja da Misericórdia
Ending for longer route: Paper Mill (Museum)
Ending for shorter route: Praça Rodrigues Lobo – Rodrigues Lobo Plaza
Itinerary: 15 stops – longer route (A);
9 stops – shorter route (B)
1 – Igreja da Misericórdia (Church of Mercy) and Leiria Synagogue; 2 – Casa do Arco; 3 – Casa dos Pintores (Painters’ House); 4 – Rua Barão de Viamonte (Rua Direita); 5 – Travessa da Tipografia; 6 – Rua Latino Coelho (Rua da Judiaria); 7 – Viewpoint by the Cathedral’s Bell Tower; 8 – Castelo de Leiria (Castle of Leiria); 9 – Sé de Leiria (Leiria Cathedral); 10 – Praça Rodrigues Lobo (Rodrigues Lobo Plaza); 11 – Rossio de Leiria (Leiria Square); 12 – Igreja do Espírito Santo (Church of the Holy Ghost); 13 – Fonte das Três Bicas (Três Bicas Fountain); 14 – Igreja e Convento de Santo Agostinho – Museum of Leiria; 15 – Moinho do Papel (Paper Mill).
1 – Igreja da Misericórdia (Church of Mercy) and Leiria Synagogue
The Jewish commune was established around the synagogue, located where the Igreja da Misericórdia now stands, a Christian temple with Mannerist and Baroque features, classified as a monument of public interest in 2015.The Irmandade da Misericórdia de Leiria was established in 1544, and this church took over the role of Igreja de S. Martinho (St. Martin’s Church), demolished between 1546 and 1549, at least until the Cathedral was built in 1559.
2 – Casa do Arco / Arcos da Misericórdia
Where Casa do Arco (1912), a building by Ernesto Korrodi with Art Nouveau elements, now stands, there was until 1800 the Misericórdia a hospital and poorhouse, which were then transferred to Bairro dos Anjos. It was in this place that the gates to the Leiria Jewish quarter stood in the early 13th century. These gates gave access to Praça de S. Martinho (St. Martin’s Plaza), now called Praça Rodrigues Lobo (Rodrigues Lobo Plaza).
3 – Casa dos Pintores – Painters’ House
This house, a building dating back to medieval times, is right in the middle of the Jewish Quarter, near the former Largo dos Banhos. It is a rare building that displays the oldest housing architecture in Leiria’s historic centre. This house is known as the Painters’ House because its façade features in so many paintings by different artists.
4 – Rua Barão de Viamonte (Rua Direita)
In Middle Ages, the Jewish population lived outside the walls of the medieval town, along Rua Barão de Viamonte, formerly known as Rua Direita. The Jewish Quarter reaches its prime in the 15th century, before the Jews were expelled from Portugal in 1496.
Archaeological studies in this area revealed an intense occupation since the Early Middle Ages, that continued until modern and contemporary times.
5 – Travessa da Tipografia
One of the first Portuguese printing workshops was established in Leiria, giving this city a relevant place in the country’s printing history. When the Ortas family arrived in Leiria in 1492, several Jewish incunabula were printed. In 1496, the important Almanach Perpetuum, by mathematician Abraham Zacuto, was also printed.
6 – Rua Latino Coelho (Rua da Judiaria)
The Jewish Quarter is a closed organic urban structure, set on a construction web and a medieval mesh around its synagogue and the streets that still exist to this day. The Ortas family, typesetters, would have had their house in Rua da Judiaria or Rua Nova (now Rua Latino Coelho).
7 – Leiria Jewish Quarter (viewpoint by the Cathedral’s Bell Tower)
The Leiria Jewish Quarter presented a fish bone urban grid, with several streets that keep a medieval setting and ended up becoming a central area in the city. The centre of the Jewish Quarter stands at the intersection of Rua Barão de Viamonte (Rua Direita) with Rua Nova or Rua da Misericórdia (Rua Miguel Bombarda), formerly known as Rua da Judiaria.
8 – Castle of Leiria
A city landmark, Leiria Castle and its wall stand in an advantaged spot, where the Lena River joins the Lis River.
Archaeological traces show that the hill has been occupied for over 5,000 years.
In 1135, Afonso I of Portugal conquered Leiria from the Muslims. The castle displays a complex architectural evolution, with military (Castle’s Keep), civilian (Paços Novos) and religious features (Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Pena).
9 – Sé de Leiria (Leiria Cathedral)
The Leiria Cathedral is a sober Mannerist building; its construction began in 1559 after St. Martin’s Church was demolished (between 1546 and 1549) and the frontal plaza was created. On 22nd May 1545, Leiria is consecrated as a diocese, and in the same year, on 13th June, it is recognized as a city. Leiria Cathedral’s architectural body was classified as a national monument in 2014.
10 – Praça Rodrigues Lobo (Rodrigues Lobo Plaza)
The city’s main plaza is named after Francisco Rodrigues Lobo, a Jewish poet that converted to Christianity. His family was persecuted by the Inquisition when Jews and Muslims were expelled by a royal decree in 1496. In the plaza, there is a statue by Joaquim Correia that pays tribute to this poet.
11 – Rossio de Leiria (Leiria Square)
In the former Rossio, transformed into a garden in the second half of the 19th century, there are two remarkable pieces of public art: “Pastor Peregrino” statue (the Pilgrim Shepperd) and the sculpture “O Lis e o Lena” (depicting the Lis and Lena Rivers). The 1958 “Pastor Peregrino” statue by Pedro Anjos Teixeira is a reference to the work of Francisco Rodrigues Lobo, a poet from Leiria, who named the Lis and Lena Rivers. In the Fonte Luminosa (Light Fountain), the sculpture “O Lis e o Lena” by Lagoa Henriques celebrates the two rivers and was revealed to the public in 1973.
12 – Igreja do Espírito Santo
The Igreja do Espírito Santo was a religious monument of Baroque features from the 18th century. This church was built where a chapel of the same name from the late 13th century once stood. This chapel had a hospital and a poorhouse that were integrated in the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Leiria in 1614.
13 – Fonte Grande, das Carrancas ou das Três Bicas (Três Bicas fountain)
Also known as Fonte das Carrancas (Ugly Mugs Fountain), this Baroque fountain with a drinking trough for animals was built in the 18th century.
14 – Convento e Igreja de Santo Agostinho – Museum of Leiria
The Convento e Igreja de Santo Agostinho is a religious complex with Mannerist and Baroque features and was classified as a monument of public interest.
Between 1577 and 1579, soon after Leiria was recognized as a city and consecrated as a diocese (1545), the construction of the church and monastery of Augustine Hermits began, by order of Bishop D. Frei Gaspar do Casal. Right next to this building is the first diocesan seminary (1671-1672).
After 1834, the building housed Army quarters. Nowadays, since 2015, the monastery houses the Museum of Leiria.
15 – Paper Mill (Museum)
In 1411, John I of Portugal granted a royal charter to Gonçalo Lourenço de Gomide enabling him to make paper in Leiria. The first Portuguese paper factory was established here.
The manufacturing of paper in the medieval town may be related to the creation of one of the country’s first printing workshops that belonged to the family of the Jewish typesetter Samuel de Ortas.
After the building complex was restored under Siza Vieira’s supervision, it has been functioning as a museum since 2009.