Leiria lār´yə [key], town (1991 pop. 27,531), capital of Leiria dist., W central Portugal, in Beira Litoral. It is an agricultural trade center producing leather goods and cement. There Alfonso I erected (beginning 1135) a castle on a cliff above the present city; it was taken and retaken in the wars with the Moors. In 1254, Alfonso III summoned to Leiria the first Cortes to have representatives of the towns. The first duke of Braganza, son of an illegitimate son of John I and a daughter of Nun' Álvares Pereira and ancestor of the Braganza royal line, was reared there. At Marinha Grande, near Leiria, is the national glass factory. One of the first printing presses in Portugal was opened in Leiria in 1466.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Spanish and Portuguese Political Geography