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Set in a wooded region between the ocean and the heights of the Serra de Sicó mountains, this small town is closely associated with the Marquis of Pombal (chief minister of King José I, responsible for many reforms and for rebuilding Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake), who died here in 1777.

Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo lived in what is now the Praça Marquês de Pombal square, where the family crest can be seen at the old prison and the granary. At the Municipal Museum, installed in the former Monastery of Saint Anthony, there is also a collection of art and documents focusing on the Marquis.

The town, however, was founded in the 12th century by the Knights Templar and is dominated by a stately castle which belonged to the master of the Templars, Gualdim Pais. According to legend, the name of Pombal (dovecote) was given to the town when the king saw many pigeons on the castle's battlements.

Other interesting sites are the Church of Our Lady of Cardal (built in 1703), the Old Clock Tower (15th century), the Chapel of Our Lady of Piety (1551) and the 17th-century manor-house of the Counts of Castelo Melhor.

On the coastline, the vast golden beach of Osso da Baleia remains idyllic for those searching a peaceful spot by the ocean.

Inland, the mountainous scenery of Serra de Sicó offers unforgettable views, small stone villages rising amid green fields and the magnificent valley of the river Anços.

The village of Louriçal is dominated by the old Clarissas Convent, with a Baroque entrance-hall and fine 18th-century decorated tiles.

On the county limits, the village of Redinha, founded in 1159, is enchanting with its unusual pillory, a Manueline Mother Church and a Medieval stone bridge.

The county's gastronomy is rich in sweets and cakes, such as bolo de noz (nut cake), sonhos de canela (cinnamon fritters), coscorões (a kind of pancakes) and tigeladas (made with eggs, milk and sugar).

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