Today’s Caldas da Rainha is a vibrant town housing commercial centers, shops, public services, museums and parks and where history and modern life go hand in hand. Shopping in Caldas, as called by the locals, is a great fun, too. Explore the shoe, bag and fashion stores on the main shopping streets along Praça da Republica, or in the Vivaci indoor shopping center.
Most visitors come to Caldas to see the famous fruit and vegetable market located on Praça da Republica, or often conveniently called Praça da Fruta, where every morning (closed on Sundays) the fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers give the square a colorful and unforgettable experience. Don’t expect to buy produce that has not been grown on local fields or which is not seasonal, everything is fresh and full of taste. After you are done with your fresh fruit purchase, enjoy a drink or lunch at one of the coffee bars on the square. Daily fish market is located above the main square, Praça da Republica, in a street perpendicular to the main hospital of Caldas . The best time to buy fish is around noon when local fishermen try to sell all the remaining fish and you can find your bargain deals. Closed on Mondays.
The Thermal hospital, located next to the Don Carlos park, was designed to replace the original hospital set up by the Queen Leonor. The spas of Caldas da Rainha are recommended for rheumatic and muscular-skeletal ailments and respiratory illnesses. It is open all year round.
Don Carlos I park surrounds the Thermal Hospital and in fact is an extremely well cared for garden. Currently, the park has recreational and cultural facilities, such as lake, tennis courts, children’s playground, bar and teashop, Museum of Jose Malhoa (exhibiting paintings, culture and ceramics art works), and a profusion of sculptural works of art spread throughout the park. On hot days the park high tree canopy creates a pleasant environment to rest and enjoy the tranquility of the park.
Caldas also has vast architectural heritage, with the buildings influenced by Art Nouveau of particular interest. Art Nouveau is characterized above all by the stone, which is not a traditionally used material, combined with ceramic linings, hand-painted tile friezes with floral motives and stylish designs fitting in with the stonework. Although the ceramic tradition of Caldas is lost in time, there are many ceramic museums to be visited. One of the most famous is a Ceramics museum of Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, one of the figures, who gave the ceramics of Caldas their celebrated characteristics. His ceramics factory was founded in Caldas in 1885, the factory is still in business. On request, the factory can be visited.
History about Caldas da Rainha
In the summer of 1484, when an contagious disease was devastating Lisbon, Queen Leonor, accompanied by her court, went to Obidos. On the way the she saw the poignant spectacle of the poverty-stricken poor and sick bathing in spas, in inhuman conditions. There and then she made a vow that if God gave her life, she would do all within her power so that the poor would have better conditions to treat their diseases. The legend was passed down from generations to generations, but the majestic Thermal hospital shows that it has more substance than just the myth.
The foundation of Caldas da Rainha (Spas of the Queen) originates from a profoundly cultural act by the Queen Leonor, who chose this region as a stage for the development of her projects, protecting the arts and the artists, an aura that spanned over the centuries and remains intact up until today.
Caldas da Rainha continued to grow, reaching its heyday in the late 19th and early 20th century, at a time when it was fashionable to take a holiday in a spa resort, and Caldas da Rainha was one of the places chosen by the nobility and aristocracy.