To founding King Dom Afonso Henriques, the conqueror of Leiria in 1135 and the founder of its castle, the town was the advance point for his strategy of conquering Santarém, Sintra and Lisbon from the Moors.
In 1254, Dom Afonso III held his first Cortes (royal parliament) here, attended by the representatives of all the kingdom’s towns, an event that was considered extremely important in the history of Portugal, for it was the first time that the common people had been allowed to express their opinions and make petitions to the king.
In the 14th century, King Dom Dinis and his wife, the Sainted Queen Isabel, lived in the castle because they enjoyed its sweeping views over the charming countryside all around.
The king’s reign was marked by the planting of the Leiria pine forest all along the coastal strip in order to protect the sand dunes from erosion. Its maritime pines were to provide the timber and pitch used in the building of Portuguese ships, especially during the period of the Exploration, and even today this immense patch of green is a very pleasant place for a hike.
During the 15th century by the order of King Joao I, the royal palace was expanded with arched galleries providing views over the city itself. The addition of these galleries two twin towers were added each. These towers were designed as bedrooms and private quarters for the royal family. The castle and the palace still stand and welcome your visit today.