Marvão, a solitary fortress resisting the test of time

Marvão, a solitary fortress resisting the test of time

The Portugal-Spain border, known by the epithet A Raia is the oldest border line in Europe, which divides the Portuguese and Spanish territories. Raia is a unique Portuguese-Spanish region that deserves to be visited at least once in its life.

This region is much more than a boundary between the Portuguese region of Marvão and the Spanish region of Estremadura. It is a secret territory that protects the historical, linguistic and cultural legacy shared by these two peoples. Raia is the guardian of an unknown language, cuisine and traditions common to these two countries. The municipality of Marvão is an example of this scenario, with its charming landscapes worthy of a medieval film set.


History of Marvão


Marvão was, at one time, conquered to the Muslims by D. Afonso Henriques, having later been conquered again by the Moors, in 1190. In the year of 1226, D. Sancho II, gave to the population one of the first royal charters of the Alentejo.

Three years later, in 1229, D. Dinis took over Marvão Castle, which, as a result of military expansions and rebuildings, gained great importance in the wars with Castilians and Spaniards. Of these reconstructions, the Torre de Menagem and new sets of walls stand out. It was changed and expanded again in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries and is today considered a medieval national monument, and should not, for all these reasons, be visited by anyone who passes by.

The village of Marvão and the territory on which it is based, namely the rugged mountains in which it "clings" to the land, are of an almost primitive but extraordinary beauty. These mountains were, from an early age, used as a refuge or as a strategic military site, since the Roman period.

Its historical remains date from the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods and are on display at the Municipal Museum. Several menhirs, tapirs and a Roman station were found here, thus justifying their resistance over time, not always easy.


Because it is so high up in the Serra de S. Mamede, the village of Marvão is difficult to access, a great advantage in the past, since for this reason it served as a natural protection against enemies. It is believed, therefore, born for defensive reasons.

It exclusively maintained the role of the only Portuguese fortification with a strategic purpose until the 19th century and is the richest in terms of historical and military heritage. Here they fought and won battles and political struggles, making the village the core defender of its external opponents, over centuries. Marvão was part of the first defensive line in our territory.


 Marvão is surrounded by walls from the 13th and 17th centuries, which protect it and surround the houses in its center. Erected high up there, it shows itself to everyone with its winding and narrow streets, and whitewashed houses, in the Alentejo style.

The walls of the village of Marvão are monuments that are not forgotten due to their magnificence, but Marvão is not just walls. Marvão is history in its Mother Church from the 15th century and in the old Church of Santa Maria, which is now a Municipal Museum. Here, visitors can see and admire the region's ethnological and archaeological collections and traces of thousands of years of settlement.


Life in the village of Marvão happens slowly, perhaps time here is slower or life is not as rushed as in so many other places. The environment is full of harmony and tranquility. Here, you can discover the legacy of the past, enjoy a typical regional meal or look for pieces of furniture for your interior decoration or for the pleasure of the eyes...

The houses of the people of Marvão seems to have been carved directly in the mountain. Houses are rather small, made of white lime and granitic stones. Decoration is sober, somewhat austere and practical : a few plants, scarce decorations within the rooms.

Marvão is unforgettable and inexhaustible so don't miss the opportunity to visit it!

Sources :
Tourism of Evora & Alentejo


Previous Article Next Article

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published