Oeiras Borough: A dynamic place

IMG_0530 PQ POETAS 260The Borough of Oeiras is located between Lisbon and Cascais and covers the area from Oeiras to Algés. For years it has been an up and coming town with restoration of old sites and new facilities for its residents and visitors. Recently the marina (the Porto de Recreio de Oeiras) opened and another innovation is the environment friendly SATU mono-rail which links the Paço de Arcos train station to Oeiras Parque Shopping Centre.

Oeiras was the residence of Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo (1699-1782), who was made Count of Oeiras in 1759.  Ten years later he became the Marquês de Pombal. He was one of Portugal’s dynamic Prime Ministers under the then King José I. His home, the Palácio Marquês de Pombal, is an 18th century building now used as government and council offices. It has 12 busts of Roman emperors. The gardens are only open to visitors by guided visits on Sundays.

From palaces, churches, museums, gardens, swimming pools, art galleries and beaches Oeiras has something for people of all ages and tastes.

Several forts are located along the coast. These were built in strategic locations to defend Lisbon from invaders. At the entrance to the Tejo River is the Forte de São Lourenço also known as the Forte de Bugio, built in the sea in the 16th century in Renaissance style. The lighthouse was only installed in the 18th century.

Other forts in this borough are the Forte de São Julião da Barra in Carcavelos, started in the 16th century and completed under King João IV. The Fort held some important military and political events including the beheading of prisoners and throwing some of them into the sea. The Sao João das Maias Fort in Oeiras is small and built in the 17th century. The Giribita in Paço de Arcos was built in the 17th century under King Joao IV as was the Forte de São Bruno in Caxias.

Important archaelogical finds have been found in Oeiras, in the Leceia area. A reconstruction of the site can be seen in the Fabrica da Polvora de Barcarena or Barcarena Gunpowder Factory Museum, a twenty-five minute bus (106) ride from the train station. This whole complex was used to produce gunpowder in the 18th century but has now been turned into a museum displaying the tools utilised and products manufactured. The vast area includes gardens and areas for leisure activities and a café.

Paço de Arcos has the Vintage Car Museum or Museu do Automóvel Antigo. Here we see a collection of vintage cars, including those made by Ford.

In Caxias just a short walk from the train station is the Quinta do Paço Real de Caxias. It has geometric gardens built in the 18th century in French style but its main feature is the cascade – the Cascata – made of natural stone.

Near the train station in Cruz Quebrada is the Vasco da Gama Aquarium. This houses collections by King Carlos I who was a keen oceanographer. The aquarium has a variety of marine and freshwater fauna.

A recent addition for leisure activities is the Jardim dos Poetas or Poets Park. This is a modern designed park with sculptures of famous Portuguese poets among them Fernando Pessoa, Alexandre O’Neill and Natalia Correia, dotted along ten hectares of a total of 25 hectares of landscaped gardens. There are also water features, a children’s park and an amphiteatre. In the final phase the statues will total 50 and will include 11 of poets from the former colonies. There are superb views from here. Just next door is the Oeiras Park Shopping Centre.

Oeiras celebrates religious festivities throughout the year with processions from churches and in the streets.

Antique fairs are held on the 1st Sunday in Oeiras, 3rd Sunday in Paço de Arcos and 4th Sunday in Algés.

PR