Marinha Grande is the main town servicing the Silver Coast between Nazare and Figueira da Foz. The town is set amongst 100 square kilometres of 700 year old pine forest, Pinhal de Leiria. Marinha Grande is most famous for its glass manufacturing industry which was first established in the middle of the 18th century by Englishman by William Stephens.
The beaches along this stretch of the Silver Coast are excellent, white sandy beaches, some with plants and birdlife of interest to wildlife lovers. The most popular beach is Sao Pedro de Muel which is easily accessed from Marinha Grandenear Leiria. This is a sheltered beach in a natural bay. Fishing, surfing, beach volleyball, tennis, jogging and bicycle riding and walking are all popular activities here. A long stretch of sandy, less busy beaches line the coast from Marinha Grande up to Figueira da Foz.
Marinha Grande is the main town servicing the Silver Coast between Nazare and Figueira da Foz. The town is set amongst 100 square kilometres of 700 year old pine forest, Pinhal de Leiria. The forest was first planted in the 13th century under the instruction of Dom Alfonso III and expanded by Dom Dinis to act as a barrier against the advancing sands and as a timber supply to the maritime industry of the time. It is an aromatic forest through which several waymarked walks a leaflet is available with all the walks through the forest. It's popular with picnickers and there are several campsites within it. There is now also a cycle route from Marinha Grande all the way to S Pedro de Moel on the coast. Further information is available from Marinha Grande Tourist Office, Nucleo Stephens, 2430 Marinha Grande. Tel: 351 244 566 644.
Marinha Grande is most famous for its glass manufacturing industry which was first established in the middle of the 18th century by Englishman by William Stephens. The wood from the pine forest was used to fuel the factories. The Royal Glass Factory (Real Fabrica de Vidros) was bought by William Stephens developed the factory and the business under the protection of the Marques de Pombal, who lent him 80,000 cruzados and also allowed him to cut wood in parts of the forest. In 1826, the factory was given to the state and became one of the country's main producers of traditionally made fine crystal.
The whole area around Marinha Grande is famed for its intricate glassware using traditional methods. There are various museums and factories that can be visited as part of the "Glass Route" including Museu do Vidro da Marinha Grande which houses glassware from the 17th-20th centuries in the former palacial home of William Stephens. Palacio Stephens, Praca Guilherme Stephens, 2430-960 Marinha Grande. Tel: 351 244 560 209. Fax: 351 244 561 710. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open Tuesday to Sunday, October-May: 10 am 6 pm, June-September 10 am 7 pm. Closed Mondays. Check the details at the Leiria Fatima Tourist website (weblinks right).
The glass making industry here was struggling to survive which has resulted in some high unemployment in the area. However, having gone through a period of modernisation supported by European initiatives the glass making is once more continuing with innovative techniques and design. Tourism is one of the areas where it is hoped diversification will also assist the local economy. Nearby a short drive from Marinha Grande to the north of Leiria stands the lovely baroque church of Milagres, whose azulejo tiles dating back to 1795 describe the miracle of a local peasant restored to health after being paralysed by a fall.
The beaches along this stretch of the Silver Coast are excellent, white sandy beaches, some with plants and birdlife of interest to wildlife lovers. This part of Portugal is on limestone which is easily eroded forming fascinating caves and rock formations. The Serras de Aire e Candeeiros Natural Park is nearby. Check our page for more details, weblink right. The most popular beach is Sao Pedro de Muel which is easily accessed from Marinha Grandenear Leiria. This is a sheltered beach in a natural bay. Fishing, surf, beach volleyball, tennis, jogging and bicycle riding and walking are all popular activities here. Being so popular there are plenty of cafes and restaurants where seafood is obviously a speciality. Other attractions include the Museum of Portuguese poet Afonso Lopes Vieira (1878-1948), the local architecture as well as the Lighthouse "Penedo da Saudade" on a fantastic cliff top setting.
Other beaches along this stretch of coastline are Praia de Agua de Medeiros (good for families & hire horses, fishing), Praia de Falca (wildlife interest), Praia de Legua (bar, wildlife, fishing), Praia de Paredes da Vitoria (chapel, restaurant, playground and public toilets, "castle" rock formation, good for parapenting), Praia de Pedra do Ouro (Parking spaces, a bar, public toilets and a good access to the watched area of the beach, important for fishing), Praia de Polvoeira (good fishing, ancient fishing town nearby, biodiversity), Praia de Vale Furado (parking, bar, fishing, not manned) and Praia do Norte (North Beach) (dunes, wildlife, not watched caution needed, surfers, fishermen, limestone cave, limestone cliffs. The facilities at these beaches tend to be seasonal and fairly minimal on some - great if you want to get away from the hordes. Further details of each beach are given at the Leiria Fatima Tourist website (weblink right).
Further north are Praia da Vieira, a long expanse of white sand around a traditional fishing village and Pedrogao. In Pedrogao the narrow streets leading into the main drag "Avenida Marginal" has also retained the old fishermen's character of the town. Pedrogao is a popular beach full of sizzling bodies and sunshades in the height of the summer season. The traditional fishing boats are still very much in evidence and still bring their nets full of fresh fish onto the beach for the public auctions.