Located half-way up Portugal's eastern border with Spain, it had only been just over a day and a half since we had left the Algarve area at the bottom end! Very pleasant countryside if you ever happen to follow our footsteps along this route.
Marvao is located in a forested and mountainous area, only 4 miles from Spain, so it is definitely worth a visit!
The castle was really my favourite, maybe because of lacking of other interesting monuments (the churches inside the walls are closed).
Apart from the castle I also loved some artefacts on the Municipal Museum although printed material on Marvão and Castelo de Vide are scarce, rare to be seen and no more to be published so you can only see the covers and get interested in the subjects without being able to acquire a copy for yourself and you are prevented from actually reading anything since it is all exhibited inside frames...
Fondest memory: Silence and the view from up...
Favorite thing: Several works of recovery have been undertaken and the Town Council is still intent in improving the historical center of Marvao. The issue was debated during the I Forum Marvao, with Portuguese and Spanish experts discussing the best strategies to improve the town´s candidature and also the ways to avoid the the abandonment of the historical regions on both sides of the border.
Favorite thing: The Marvao Castle commands the surrounding countryside and you can see when you walk around the battlements WHY this site was chosen. This was the first site where we used the "panorama" setting on our camera. We enjoyed this medieval town from the 13th century from the moment we arrived.
You can find a map of the castle and its grounds at the tourist information center just outside the castle, it is near the end of the castle gardens that are below the main castle entrance.
With it you can wander the walls and battlements of the castle, even visit the cistern and castle keep. We could not find any information at the tourist center about the history of the place in English, the map and some short excerts yes, but nothing in depth.
Favorite thing: Walking the streets of towns/villages like Marvao is sort of like entering a living museum (although the walking is a little harder on your feet with the cobbled streets, so wear good walking shoes with a hard sole if possible). What is odd is that even though we know that the village itself is alive, and does have a population, we saw not even a single person on the streets, saw no open windows, nor did we hear voices, television or radio coming from any of the homes.....
Favorite thing: The city walls, this is what protects the village, which protects the castle, which protects the village, which protects the surrounding countryside. Walls on walls and within walls, even the walls which are outside the castle to protect the village itself are impressive in their size. Some of the exterior walls are of a double construction that I have not often seen and here you even have one or two with grass so green it could be a putting green. I wonder if the original architect designed them with a fill of soil or is this just an accumulation of soil over the years? The views are breathtaking into the valleys below.
Favorite thing: Dry, arid, hot, humid, rocky, not things that bring to mind green or garden, but even here at Marvao, on the rocky outcropping with its castle the people have created green havens for the eyes and nose. The manicured and cropped garden below the castle brings to mind a mini garden along the lines of those known in France, while the gardens surrounding the village center supply a green spot for relaxing from the unreleting stones and heat.
Favorite thing: Marvao village and castle, perched above the surrounding countryside gives you some fantastic views. Our small Olympus Stylus camera has a "panorama" setting which takes three photos one after the other as you pan from left to right and then has a program that connects them into a panoramic view, and this was the time to use it.
Favorite thing: The simple streets of Marvao provide a nice venue for photography with the stone buildings and cobbled paving along with a few of the "human" touches like the wooden doors giving each entrance an individuality of its own. The water source at the village center no longer provides the water for the inhabitants, but still can be seen as a gathering place.
If you don’t have any guide, first of all you have to go to the tourist office.
And yes, it was what I did.
tel: 245 993886/245 909131
fax: 245 993526