Marvão Castle – Tourism in Alentejo

by alrou on January 2, 2011

The small town of Marvão (3750 inhabitants) in the Northern Alentejo (Alto Alentejo) Region, close to the frontier with Spain, is one of the most amazing fortified villages in Portugal.

Huddled atop a mountain 860 meters (2,820 feet ) tall, the main attraction of this medieval town is the Castle of Marvão, which dates back to the 9th century, where the knight of Islam, named Ibn Maruan, sheltered himself in this castle and gave birth to the name of the town. It was later conquered by Christians, which substantially improved the fortifications.

The Castle, with its thick walls, battlements and towers, has an ample view over the mountainous landscape and the sun-baked plains of the Alentejo.

What  makes this experience unique is walking through the tangle of cobblestone streets, and discovering the alleys and corners in silence, with just a handful of tourists wondering around. If you want some noise, go to the echoing cistern of the castle and recite out loud your ideal list of qualities (I’m handsome, smart, in love with a beautiful gal/guy, and always have more money than I can spend, etc…). It surely will do good to your ego, provided that there is nobody standing outside, decided to go visit the cistern.

Besides the historical village which is inserted in the Natural Park of São Mamede, this region has vestiges from the Paleolithic age including dolmens, menhirs and rupestral paints and also has marks of the Roman occupation. Considering that Marvão is a low traffic, 2 ½ hour drive from Lisbon, it is surely worth visiting, as you can verify in the pictures below.

Fortified town of Marvão with view of the Castle

Parking zone before the entrance arch

view from inside the walls of the castle

another view from inside the walls of the castle

view of the castle walls

view from the garden, in front of the castle

Inside the cistern, which was originally built for storage of rain water and still in use today for water gardening

view from the castle, overlooking the garden and the church

another view from the castle

  • Vphilion

    We just returned in early April from 3 weeks in Portugal….loved it. We did Marvao…as well as many other areas… from the home of friends who live in Entroncamento. What a great time we had. I, too, wanted to move there.

    We even looked at a lovely condo….sigh… probably not the time of our lives to be packing up and moving away from home…. but…perhaps visiting for at least a few months of the year would still be good…..so much still to see and do…

  • Alrouiller

    It's good to hear that you appreciated your trip to Portugal. It has a compact diversity offering sea, mountains, rivers – you choose what suits you best! About your plans to have a secondary home in Portugal, surely it is a valid plan worth considering! Have a great day.

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