Caldas da Rainha owes its name to Queen Dona Leonor, wife of the 15th century King Dom João II. On her travels, she enjoyed the local thermal spring. Even though she had various treatments, she had a wound that would not heal. To her surprise, the wound healed after bathing in that spring.
The local people bathed in those hot springs to cure their ailments. So, the Queen ordered to build a hospital for the people. Since there was high demand for the springs, this allowed bathing in comfort. Around the hospital, a village was formed, which came to be known as “Caldas da Rainha” (The Queen`s Hot Springs).
The town continued to grow. It reached its heyday in the late 19th and early 20th century. At that time it was fashionable to take a holiday in a spa resort. Hence, it was one of the places chosen by the nobility and aristocracy.
During the Second World War, the town was chosen as a place of refuge by many foreigners fleeing from persecution by the Nazis.
Caldas was the birthplace of important figures in Portuguese culture, notably the painter José Malhoa (C.19), whose work can be admired in the museum named after him in the Thermal Park (Dom Carlos I garden). Also born here was Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, the 19th century caricaturist. He founded the pottery factories where the popular Caldas pottery began to be manufactured, of which the best-known pieces are those containing characteristics humor.