King Dinis I gave the city of
along with the towns of
Porto dos Mos and Trancoso, to his wife Isabel as a wedding present in
the early 14th century. Dinis, who earned the nickname Rei Lavrador
(Farmer King), also made Leiria his home.
Dinis ordered the planting of the famous
Pinhal de Leiria, situated on the coast west of
The Pinhal de Leiria is now a protected area, though during the 15th and
16th century the wood from the forest was an invaluable aid to ship
building for Portugal's explorations. However Dinis also ordered the
drying of wetlands on the banks of the Lis, fertile land for crops.
During mediaeval times Leiria was
prosperous trade centre with wheat, olives, wine, wood, rock salt and
coal being bought. It is also rumoured Leiria was the first Portuguese
city to produce paper in 1411. The town also had one of the first
printing presses, run by Jews in the 15th century.
In 1545 Leiria was chosen by Pope Paul III
to be the Bishops headquarters and construction of the city's Cathedral
began in the mid 16th century.
In the 21st century Leiria has continued to
prosper with shopping centres, sports arenas and the large colourful
football stadium, constructed for the 2004 European Championships. The
stadium is now home to the city's professional club União de Leiria.
The city has a large variety of
restaurants, cafes and bars and is popular for visitors all year round.
Although situated inland Leiria is also only a 30 minute to some of the
Silver Coast's quieter beaches at Vieira, Pedrógão and Sao Pedro de Moel
ensuring there is something for everyone.