Pombal Guide | Portugal Visitor

Pombal Guide | Portugal Visitor


Portugal City Travel Guide: Pombal


Pombal Castle was built over previous Roman and Moorish forts

Pombal is a small castle town located virtually in the center of Portugal. It is 40 km south of Coimbra and 26 km north of Leiria, just off the E1 highway that connects those two cities.

With a population of under 20,000, the town has a few sights of interest mainly the Moorish castle and the Museu Marquês de Pombal, dedicated to Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo (aka the Marquês de Pombal), one of Portugal’s greatest ever statesmen and politicians.

Museu Marquês de Pombal in Pombal, Portugal.
Museu Marquês de Pombal


Pombal was founded by Gualdim Pais, Grand Master of the Order of the Templars, who built the superb Convento de Cristo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and also founded the nearby town of Tomar.

Pais himself gave the town its foral (charter) in 1174.


The Castelo de Pombal has both Roman and Moorish antecedents before it was enlarged and strengthened by Gualdim Pais and later by King Manuel I.

The style of architecture can be seen in other Templar castles such as Almourol and Monsanto Castle in Monsanto. Later improvements to the castle by King Manuel I (1469-1521) are attested to by the king’s coat of arms above the main gate.

The ruins of the old parish church, the Church of Santa Maria do Castelo, stand outside the formidable walls.

The father of the Marquês de Pombal owned land in the area and though Pombal was born in Lisbon and educated in Coimbra he retained a relationship with his ancestral home.

The Museu Marquês de Pombal is dedicated to this great 18th century reformer who rebuilt parts of the capital after the devastating earthquake of 1755.

He also passed laws to define wine quality and production, expelled the Catholic Jesuit order in 1759 and attempted to improve the administration of Portugal’s Brazilian colonies. Furthermore, Pombal also reformed education in the country, rationalized the taxation system and tried to set up a manufacturing base to ease Portugal’s import burden from Britain, in particular.

The free museum is located inside a prison building Pombal himself ordered built, the Cadeia Velha de Pombal. The collection on display includes original books, busts of the great man, ceramics, documents, glassware, letters and manuscripts, some of them written by the Marquês.

Another museum of interest is the Museu de Arte Popular Portuguesa, housed in a former granary, again constructed on the orders of the Marquês de Pombal in 1776.

On display are over 2,000 pieces of folk art and crafts from around Portugal. A former curator at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon assembled the collection.

The Teatro-Cine de Pombal on Praça Manuel Henriques Júnior also puts on temporary exhibitions and other events such as plays, concerts and movies.

Torre do Relógio Velho, Pombal, Portugal.
The Torre do Relógio Velho has some Manueline features
Panorâmico AquaParque, Portugal.
© Panorâmico AquaParque

The Torre do Relógio Velho was built in the 14th century during the reign of  D. Pedro I. It was used for tax collection from the local Jewish population. Improved during the reign of Manuel I, a clock and bell were added. Pombal moved the bell to his new prison, now the Museu Marquês de Pombal.

Panorâmico AquaParque is a water park a few kilometers outside Pombal in the Serra de Sicó, a limestone karst rising to over 500 meters. There are various water slides and pools providing great fun for the kids in the summer months.

Pombal like all Portuguese towns and cities does not lack for churches. In the town itself are the Igreja Matriz de São Martinho which dates originally from the 14th century but restored several times over time. An important event in Portuguese history is believed to have occurred here. King Denis I and his son Afonso made peace here after a period of conflict, an event depicted in a large tile panel on an arch above the altar.

The large, 17th century Baroque Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Cardal is the center of the Festas do Bodo held in July. The altarpiece was brought from the now ruined Church of Santa Maria do Castelo. The body of the Marquês de Pombal was laid to rest here from 1782 until 1856, when it was transferred to the Ermida da Mercês in Lisbon.

Outside Pombal is the Franciscan church and convent of the Igreja do Convento do Louriçal known for its superb azulejos tile panels.

The above-mentioned Festas do Bodo is Pombal’s main festival held in July. Dating back to a procession from church to church beginning at the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Cardal to pray for a relief from famine, the festival recreates that procession with added fireworks, folk dances and music concerts by mostly contemporary Portuguese bands and DJs.

Igreja do Convento do Louriçal, Portugal.
18th century tile panel showing the miracle of the multiplication of bread by Saint Clare of Assisi at the Igreja do Convento do Louriçal
Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business.
Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business
Festas do Bodo, Portugal.
© Festas do Bodo

Pombal Tourist Office

Pombal Tourist Office
Castelo de Pombal
3100-440 Pombal
Tel. 236 210 556

Hours: April to September: Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 7 pm;
October to March: Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm.

Pombal Station, Portugal.
Pombal Station

Getting to Pombal

Train Travel in Portugal

Pombal’s railway station is on the Linha do Norte running between Campanhã Station in Porto and Oriente and Santa Apolónia stations in Lisbon. From Lisbon the fastest trains take around 90 minutes. From Porto journey time is approximately 1 hour, 50 minutes.

Heading north from Pombal trains stop at Coimbra B, Aveiro and Espinho.

Traveling south towards the capital, the main stations are at Entroncamento, Santarem and Vila Franca de Xira.

Car Travel in Portugal

From Lisbon take the A1 highway north via Vila Franca de Xira and Santarem. It takes about 1 hour, 40 minutes to 2 hours by road to Pombal.

Bus Travel in Portugal

On the bus, it takes 2 hours, 55 minutes from Lisbon’s Sete Rios bus station to Pombal. Buses from Oriente are 2 hours, 25 minutes. The buses are operated by Alsa.

Transdev runs buses to Coimbra (1 hour, 45 minutes).

There are also more local buses from Pombal operated by POMBUS. Most services depart from Largo do Cardal.

There are buses also from Pombal to Louriçal.

Cardal Hotel, Portugal.
Cardal Hotel

Portugal Hotel & Hostel Accommodation

The Cardal Hotel, located in Largo do Cardal offers stylish rooms, modern furnishings and free Wifi.

Rooms at the 3-star Hotel Pombalense at Rua Alexandre Herculano 26, are comfortable and the property has both a restaurant and bar.

The Belem Hotel at Rua Avª Herois Do Ultramar 185, offers rooms at a reasonable rate including a buffet breakfast with fresh fruit juice.

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Featured Hotel in Pombal

Cardal Hotel
Largo do Cardal

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Some recommended places to eat include Vintage on Rua Alexandre Herculano and Variante on Rua Maria Fogaça both serving delicious Portuguese cuisine.


Try Criolina Irish Pub near the Monumento do Bombeiro.

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Cafes & Bars

Leitaria Da Praça
Praça Faria da Gama 4, 3100-442 Pombal.

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The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.
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Pombal Castle, Portugal.
Gate at Pombal Castle, Portugal


Other places to visit in the Estremadura region of Portugal include Alcobaça, Batalha, Caldas da Rainha, Ericeira, Fátima, Foz do Arelho, Golegã, Mafra, Nazaré, Óbidos, Ourém, Peniche, Santarém, Tomar, Torres Vedras and Vila Franca de Xira.

Pombal castle, Portugal.
Pombal Castle, Portugal



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