Óbidos is a fortified medieval hilltop town of 11,000 inhabitants on the Atlantic coast of Portugal, some 70km north of Lisbon. With its network of narrow cobbled streets encircled by ancient castle walls, as well as nearby beaches, it is a major draw for tourists. This is the basis for the town’s economy as tourism investors continue to generate new business opportunities, even in the current economic crisis. Óbidos is dominated by its medieval castle, which has become an upmarket hotel. The municipality also has one of Europe’s top golf courses, Praia del Rey.
Óbidos’s ambition is to make a link between its reputation as an historic town with a new image of a city investing in its future. The municipality has established annual cultural events, such as a chocolate festival, ‘Creative May’, a medieval fair and an opera festival. It wants to strengthen the town’s image, attractiveness and the local economy by encouraging creativity at all levels, from education to business. This policy is part of a wider regional strategy aimed at making the central region of Portugal one of the most innovative in Europe.
The town, which gives its name to an important wine region, highlights its rural landscape, quality of life and sustainability. At the same time it is promoting its knowledge-led business sectors, especially new media and IT. It has put creativity at the centre of its development plan, which focuses on creative entrepreneurship, jobs, education and culture. It has built a technology park and a site for creative industries.