Medieval Fair

Jo’s Monday walk : Paderne Medieval Fair

It seemed a strange time of year to have a Medieval Fair, and curiosity drew me to Paderne.  It’s another of those small Algarve villages that punches above its weight when it comes to the grand occasion.  It was a lovely day for a drive out into the countryside, so off we went, arriving unfashionably early.  Later we were glad that we had done, as parking became extremely fraught.  As it was, we had the streets almost to ourselves as we browsed the stalls, smiling and exclaiming at the range of goods.  Who to buy a hobby horse for, or maybe a many-legged puppet?

I was so busy looking that I scarcely noticed the beating of drums until the procession was almost upon me.  A curtsey may well have been in order, for I was swept contemptuously aside by an imperious lord.  Amends were made when a handsome knight stooped to kiss my hand, covering me with confusion.  Suitably embarrassed, I stepped back to watch the parade.

Drums beat and pipes skirled as they swayed towards me.  A lady with an enigmatic smile carried an unblinking owl, and another conjured with a crystal ball.  In a small square a stage had been set up, and here the entertainment began.  His Lordship welcomed the assembled crowd, many of whom were busy feasting at trestle tables.  The aroma of roasting meat filled the air, as dancing girls twirled voluptuously and masked drummers kept up the steady beat.  An accomplished violinist expertly filled any gaps.

The “village lasses” laughed and teased each other, flirting outrageously to the disgust of their “elders and betters”, who tried to shoo them away.

Next the turn of the pipe band, who blew up a storm before leading the procession off to another venue, by the church steps.  We followed, in search of refreshment, and were surprised to find camera crews setting up, and a young lady conducting interviews.  Time to move on.

The streets were colourfully attired, both for Christmas and the Fair, with traditional nuts, seeds and dried fruits stacked high on stalls.

In a quiet moment we slipped inside the church, where a simple crib scene had been set up in front of the altar.

A naive Presépio (Nativity scene) presided in a tiny hall opposite the church, and around the corner a donkey waited patiently in his stable.

There was little pause in the revelry and, wherever you lingered, you’d find your toes tapping to a constant rhythm.  No-one had been left out, with games and ‘medieval’ rides for the children and armed combat for their seniors.

Not forgetting the sinuously swaying lady with the veil.  All eyes were drawn to her swivelling hips and dainty feet, up on the stage.

Reluctantly we made our way out of the village for, soon after three in the afternoon, crowds were beginning to gather.  A main stage outside of the Medieval Fair provided boisterous entertainment with a more modern flavour.  I know which I preferred.

I’d like to add this post to Cathy’s beautiful Photography Invitation.  My intention was to capture the atmosphere of the fair in photos.

  walking logo

No cake but we’ve over-indulged lately, wouldn’t you say?  And dried fruit must be a healthier option.  Many thanks to you all for wandering along with me.  Please find a little time to visit the good folk below.  And join me next time, here on Jo’s Monday walk?


How about this for a brilliant idea?  Debbie knows I can only draw Stick Men  😦

An artistic walk in Milan

A distant deer is better than no deer, isn’t it, Janet?

Monday walk…waiting for sunrise

Street art!  Sandra wonders how you feel about it :

#Portugal Graffiti

Drake acknowledges that life isn’t always pretty :

Dark side of humanity

Take a step or two back in time with Anne :

Clevedon- A Broadchurch walk

Enjoy an unusually balmy January day with Irene :

A Chicago Adventure

Or an autumnal birthday jaunt, with Cathy :

Celebrating a birthday at Mary’s Rock

And lastly, a nice young man I’d like you to meet :

Trails to Trudge: Red Rock Canyon State Park

That’s it for another week.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Take care, and I’ll see you soon!

Obidos – chocolate cups and pure theatre!

There can be few settings better suited to a Medieval Fair than Obidos- a charismatic walled town, suspended in Central Portugal in a seeming time warp.  Given to his bride Isabel as a wedding present by King Dinis in 1282, this is one very special small town. 

Porta da Vila

Porta da Vila

Passing under the Porta da Vila, the main gate, your eye is drawn upwards to a balcony nestled beneath an arch full of azulejos.  These characteristic blue and white tiles are seen everywhere in Portugal, though rarely to better effect.

I had great expectations for my visit but was quite unprepared for what transpired. I was enchanted and completely drawn into the atmosphere of the place.  It came as no surprise that maidens with floral crowns wandered the streets, nor that tabards and hose adorned a majority of males.

Banners overhead knitted the narrow streets together.  Tiny shops beckoned and beguiled.  

By the castle walls a booth had been erected. The realisation dawned that I had walked into a  Medieval Fair!  7 euros could buy admission to an evening of entertainment, inside the Castelo, from 5pm till midnight.  According to the programme, there was a parade at 6pm.  Much jingling of horses and good natured banter preceded it.

Finally a disdainful looking knight on horseback wheeled around, summoning his minions.  A flare of trumpets and the steady beat of drums and they were off. The hunting dogs looked regal. A juggler and jester entertained.  Threading through the narrow streets they circled the town, pausing frequently to engage with their audience.

Around the castle, barbecues and food stalls smoked and sizzled. The lights came up as day faded into warm evening.  The castle stood tall behind the courtyard.

Courtly dancers took to the stage, bowing and dipping to medieval strains. There was Falconry and Jousting.  Periodically the drummers leapt in to heighten the atmosphere with their furious thrumming.  But unquestionably the star of the show was our jester friend, “the fool”, with an hour or more of silliness and audience involvement.  A Portuguese Tommy Cooper, he transcended language, holding the crowd in the palm of his hand.  My sides were aching at his antics.  Midnight came all too soon.

A sweet treat- Ginja d’Obidos Still absorbing sights and sound, it was time to return to the hotel.  I planned on a chocolate treat to round off the evening.  At intervals along Rua Direita, small counters were set up.  On each, delicate, diminutive cups of chocolate awaited the cherry brandy liqueur known as Ginja d’Obidos.  First you drink the liqueur, then you eat the chocolate cup.  Inspiration!

And finally…

Casa de Relogio

I stayed at the Casa de Relogio, just outside of the town walls, and was made warmly welcome by the owner.  Our hire car was parked on a postage stamp of space outside our bedroom window. (Rua de Graca, Obidos 2510-999)The towns architecture is quirky and interesting. On a fine day you can walk around the ancient walls, peering down or off to the horizon.

I can highly recommend the restaurant O Conquistador.  The  warm bread and cheese to start was exceptional and I loved my lombo do porco no forno with rice, peas and wonderful roast chestnuts.  The javali (wild boar) also got the thumbs up, and the scrumptious house red was served in earthenware mugs. (Rua Josefa d’Obidos tel. 262 959 528)

The Medieval Fair takes place in July.  Another highlight of the town’s year is the Chocolate Festival in March.  Both children and adults can take part in culinary adventures with chocolate, feast upon chocolate and cakes, and wonder at the remarkable display of chocolate sculptures.

Whenever you choose to visit, I think you’ll find that Obidos has a magic all it’s own.