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Leiria is a city and a municipality in the Centro Region of Portugal. It is the capital of Leiria District. The population in 2011 was 126,879, in an area of. It is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leiria-Fátima.HistoryThe region around Leiria has been inhabited for a long time, although its early history is obscure. The first evident inhabitants were the Turduli Oppidani, a Celtiberian tribe (akin to the Lusitanians), who established a settlement near (around 7 km) present-day Leiria. This settlement was later occupied by the Romans, who expanded it under the original Celtiberian name Collippo. The stones of the ancient Roman town were used in the Middle Ages to build much of Leiria.The name "Leiria" in Portuguese derives from 'leira' (from the medieval Galician-Portuguese form 'laria', from proto-Celtic *ɸlār-yo-, akin to Old Irish 'làr' 'ground, floor', Breton 'leur' 'ground', Welsh 'llawr' 'floor') meaning an area with small farming plots. It was occupied for a short time by the Suebi in 414 until they were forced by the Romans to retreat to Galicia and later incorporated by Leovigild into the Visigoths kingdom in 585 A.D. Later the Moors occupied the area until it was captured by the first King of Portugal, Afonso Henriques in 1135, during the so-called Reconquista. South of Leiria in that period was the so-called "no-man's land", until regions further south (like Santarém and Lisbon) were permanently taken and re-populated by the Christians. In 1142 Afonso Henriques gave Leiria its first foral (compilation of feudal rights) to stimulate the colonisation of the region.Leiria is in Leiria District. Plan your tour of Leiria and Portugal travel itinerary using our Portugal trip planner.
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