Caldas da Rainha
Caldas da Rainha is a lovely town situated in the Central region of Portugal, known for its old connection with a Portuguese Queen, Dona Leonor, and by the manufacture of ceramics and pottery items.
During the 15th century the Queen Dona Leonor, wife of king Manuel the 1st, tried the therapeutic waters of Caldas da Rainha and a long lasting wound was at last cured, after many other treatments and medicines that did not work out.
As the Queen realised the excellent characteristics of the waters, she ordered the construction of a thermal Hospital in 1485. The location started developing around this central Hospital.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, Caldas da Rainha begins to be one of the holidays and leisure points of the Aristocracy.
Caldas da Rainha region has also quite fertile soils, and is known for the quality of its products, mainly in what concerns to fresh fruit.
It is worth to know the town centre, with interesting monuments like the São Sebastião Chapel (16th century); the Nossa Senhora do Pópulo Church (16th century); the D. Carlos I Park with many facilities like ponds, tennis court, bandstand or esplanade. This wonderful park gives access to the wonderful José Malhoa Museum from the 19th century, with important collections of Portuguese art, which highlight is obviously the work of this great Portuguese artist: José Malhoa (1855 – 1933).
In fact, Caldas da Rainha region has an high museum interest, with places like the Hospital Museum, the Ceramics Museum, the Atelier-Museums António Duarte and João Fragoso, the Artistic Faiences Bordalo Pinheiro museum or the Factory Secla Museum.
Also quite interesting and typical is the lovely República Square that still conserved many of its 19th century buildings and is also known as “Praça da Fruta” (Fruit Square) as every morning takes place an vegetable and fruit open air market that also sells one of the towns greatest production: ceramics, with the most diversified kinds of pieces, specially dedicated to popular and humorous art.
In fact, the abundance of clay in the region led to the proliferation of ceramics factories, already internationally renowned for its figurative and satirical works. The ceramics of Caldas da Rainha owe their fame to the 19th-century potter and caricaturist Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, considered to be the first Portuguese comic’s creator.