Words are not enough to describe the village of Marvao! So I’ll just use the first word that came to my mind….MARVELOUS!
Marvao, which lies at the heart of the Natural Park of S. Mamede mountains and having an altitude of about 843 meters, is considered the highest territory in the Alentejo region. The road to the village is long, steep and winding, but also exciting and exhilarating!
THE VILLAGE CENTER
The village, which is completely protected by strong medieval fortified walls, can be entered via an old gate, Porta da Vila, or by an old Roman gate, Porta de Rodao. The village is very charming! White-washed houses with beautifully decorated doors and windows were constructed on different ground levels, maximizing the use of the limited ground area of the place. Some of these houses are now converted into souvenir shops and small restaurants.
The streets are narrow and winding; one has to really look out for a passing vehicle, otherwise, he/she might be run over. There are some historical buildings like the former town hall and prison which are now used as library, school and handcraft shop. A couple of churches are also open for visit like the St. James Church and Church of Santa Maria, which now serves as the Municipal Museum.
The small village of Marvao is concentrated and limited by its walls. These walls can be walked around, starting at strategic points in the village. We walked around these walls, as expected, trying to imagine how the soldiers before did their patrouille. Our walk around the village walls ended up at the castle door.
THE MARVAO CASTLE
The castle, which is situated at the highest point of the plateau, is the most emblematic building in Marvao and one of the most important fort of defense in Portugal since 1800s. It was a strong and strategic fortress since early 800s.
A walk around the castle walls and to the two towers (Flag tower and Torre de Managem) offered us breathtaking views of the surroundings and the valley. The varied landscapes were just simply beautiful and mind-blowing!
The castle itself, which is already visible even from a distance, is a perfect example of solid defense architecture – with strategic look-out points, a water cistern which could hold water for 6 months use, and even a Treason Gate which people used to escape during longer sieges.
Entry to the castle was 1.50 per person. And I tell you, you get more than the value of your money!
CAMPSITE : Mix-Parking
Coordinates : N : 39.39432 W: 7.37349
It is a free mix-parking with 8 special places for campers, situated at the foot of the village (about 200 meters), next to the Convent of Nossa Senhora do Estrella. It has an altitude of about 765 meters, with beautiful views. There is facility for emptying chemical toilet. Wifi is at the village center via WIFI_Marvao.