The legend behind the Thermal Hospital
It is believed that the birth of Caldas da Rainha dates back to the year 1484. According to legend, Queen D. Leonor, one of the most notable Portuguese sovereigns, came here and fell in love with the intense smelling thermal waters. For that reason, the Queen built the Thermal Hospital.
The Thermal Hospital
The history of this small place in the west, which only became a city in the year 1927, was irrevocably linked to this Monarch and to the thermal baths. These thermal springs were used for therapeutic treatment and are the oldest in the world. As a result, Caldas keeps their flag and the coat of arms of Queen D. Leonor, which is a rare case since it’s said it goes against the Portuguese heraldry.
SPEAK Caldas da Rainha first event
Due to the history of the Thermal Hospital, it was inevitable that the first SPEAK event would take place there.
On June 6th, at the main door of the building, we gathered 20 people. We travelled back to the middle ages of thermal springs all the way to the present, guided by the explanation of Tânia Jorge. At our request, Tânia spoke mostly in Portuguese, which was enjoyed by those who had learnt a little of our language. Mila Reis, our buddy, also took advantage of it. Occasionally she would translate some passages and answer other questions between laughter and admiration.
Visiting the Thermal Hospital
Our visit began in the oldest part, where there are the miracle water springs and two primitive pools. The Queen built one of them in the XV century. Its inner vault was covered with yellow crystals from a long time back, warm hypersaline waters and sulfur. The other pool was the inhalation pool and was built in the early twentieth century. Here, the smell of sulfur continued to sharpen our senses, and the warmth of the waters to warm our spirits.
Visiting the Hospital Museum
Once done with the inhalations, and with the maladies dormant, we walked towards the Hospital Museum. There we were able to appreciate the historical collection and the progress that has been made. We also passed through the Nossa Senhora do Pópulo Church, also referred to as the Mother Church of Caldas da Rainha. It was built in 1500. We were able to admire it even in the midst of a liturgy.
A sunny Saturday well spent
It was a whole historic visit on a sunny Saturday morning. We successfully managed to immerse ourselves in the culture of this city.
To conclude, a small immersion in a historical and cultural set deserved to be topped off with a stroll through the magnificent D. Carlos I Park. Right there we could imagine the patients walking, as it was the custom at the time.
The whole area of the Thermal Hospital and Park is rich in water and mud. As a result, it gave rise to the famous Caldas da Rainha ceramics. Master Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro knew it in first hand, but that is a tale for another time!