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Travel with Tessa

Marvão – A Portuguese Gem

Marvão perches on a granite crest high above the surrounding valleys. It commands a three-hundred-sixty-degree view that stretches all the way to the Portuguese border and beyond into Spain.
The recorded history of Marvão dates back to the late 9th century when the Muwallad chieftain, Ibn Marwán, took refuge on the granite peak during the rebellion against the Emirate of Cordoba. Marwán oversaw the building of a castle that rose from the rock and derived its name, Marvão, from Ibn Marwãn.


The castle continued to be modified for the next one thousand years. In the late 13th century, King Dom Dinis ordered the construction of protective fortifications surrounding the village and reinforcement to his castle. After the Christian Reconquista in the 15th century, the unobstructed view of the landscape from the granite peak on which it stands continued to protect against Spanish invasion.


A steep climb to the castle from the entrance of this remarkably maintained ancient village is not to be missed. We stopped for an energy boost along the way at one of the atmospheric cafes for an ice-cold drink accompanied by one of Portugal’s irresistible pastries.
Cobblestone streets meander uphill past white-washed red-roofed houses where hot-pink and bright red geraniums flourish in courtyards and in clay planters that line the streets.


The first stop within the castle walls is the expansive underground cistern where one’s voice bounces back, amplified several times. It was built to capture sufficient rainwater to supply the village for up to six months if it was under siege.


A stroll through the “Albacar,” the parade ground, offers stunning views and unexpected beautifully landscaped gardens dotted with spring flowers.


Walk the castle ramparts, then take the iron steps adjacent to the wall in the central courtyard (no barriers, so watch your step and don’t look down) to the highest and most impenetrable tower in the castle, known as the Keep. The Keep is the most vital part of the castle, the place of last resort in case of a siege or attack.
From this highest vantage point, the views are breathtaking: The mountains,
the villages in the valley, and those across the Spanish border: Valencia de Alcántara, Cáceres, and Alburquerque.

#6A.-Insert-AFTER-paragraphThe KEEP. The highest tower in the castle.
#6B.-Insert-BELOW-#6A.-TAG.A view from the KEEP.

The best times to visit the castle are early in the morning or before sunset when you can have it virtually to yourself. The peace and beauty are mesmerizing.

  • Ibn Marwán is Arabic for: The son of Marwán.
  • Marvão is in the Alto Alentajo region of Portugal.