As an impressive eagle nest, high above the distant area, you can see Santa Maria de Marvão with its historic castle from a great distance. With less than 100 residents and protected by its unique, by Moorish completed and subsequent Portuguese kings fortified ramparts, the rulers have their enemies always managed to keep a great distance.
First we let Jose Sara Mango, writer and Nobel laureate, speaking. He wrote, overwhelmed by the grandeur of this unique location, “It is understandable that you, hear the traveler at this place at the top of the castle tower of the castle Marvao, mumbling respectfully: How huge the world can be … .. “
Marvão has ever been part of the lost Roman city Medobriga. The Roman influences from that period you get today everywhere. But the evidence of life in prehistoric times, as unique menhirs in the area, the biggest of the Iberian peninsula is near the site, just outside of Beira, in the territory of the municipality of Castelo de Vide.
It was the islamitic invasion that began in 711 in Andalusia, where Abd al-Aziz Marvao in the year 714 Marvao, captured along with Coimbra and Santarem, which was the beginning of the rule by the Moors. This rule lasted five centuries, and the first king of Portugal, Alfonso I captured this fort in 1160 work.
Archaeological excavations take place at the well near the campsite Beira-Marvão Alentejo located archaeological Ammaia in Sao Salvador de Aramenha. Here are a Roman theater, among others, have found a bathhouse and remains of habitation and many still in tact being streets. This landscaped streets with cultivations by the Romans are part of this important archaeological project.
Ammaia had its heyday more than 2,000 residents and had a role as a important horse station and thereby, during the East-West trade an important link in the Roman road network.
At Ammaia still a lot to do further archaeological work has to be done, this is also called upon a special international student exchange program. From various universities periods are organized to carry out the archaeological profession in Ammaia. Now it is with application of the latest technologies and thanks to this rewarding work, the student can be further trained as an archaeologist.
Marvão was originally a strategic fortress from the Islamic period and the period of reconquest (the Reconquista) (710-1492). Ibn Marwan al-Yil’liqui, a noble Moor used the castle as his stronghold to create an independent state. He built before the huge fortress work Badajoz in Spain.
The Portuguese kings D Dinis and his King Sancho II has further strengthened the huge fortress work of Marvao.
During the ‘Great’ War, in which the French Spaniards marched along with the Spaniards tried with an army of 4 to 5,000 troops to take the fort in the autumn of 1762. That was done with a massive attack. But Captain Thomas Browne English-Portuguese garrison held out, they defeated the Spaniards and brought them huge losses. This failure contributed to questioning by the Spaniards to a ceasefire.
After the liberal revolution in 1820 Marvao was seen as a 3rd rows congregation. The cause was the low skills of the rural population and the lack of powers to implement good governance. In 1895 a number of municipalities all over Portugal were raised, while Marvao was merged with Castelo de Vide. On January 24, 1898 the town regained back its autonomous administrative status.
The place Marvão is part of the National Natural Park Serra de São Mamede. The park is 320 square kilometers and has through its varied geology and its own microclimate an exceptional flora and fauna.
The colorful bee-eater, the great griffon vulture eagle can often be seen near the Spanish border, a few kilometers from the campsite Beira-Marvão. And the land turtle to the Iberian wolf and some foxes, often gray in color with a gray white big tail like a proud plume. The Iberian wolf is an independently hunting animal and is able to take up just 100 km per day.
Typical hand crafts Marvao:
Marvao exerted a true craftsmanship, often also using the raw chestnut. This makes precise handwork rightfully part of the cultural heritage of the marvanenses. This manual labor has a large number of variations, such as the traditional embroidery of a brown chestnut bark, in particular also beautiful chestnut baskets. These brown baskets, which are turned from brown to chestnut material and intertwined, has its origins as a tool in the rural home life, but it was also a way for example to transport fruit and vegetables.
In addition to these crafts which are related to the chestnut, are still a number of objects of wood, clay and manufactured cork.
Marvao has its own wine, Vinho da Talha. Which is produced in a way such as the Romans did. Marvao has more than 30 wineries in the municipality and along with 120 winegrowers from across Alentejo they will sign this production with the pitchers as a UNESCO World Intangible Heritage. On the Kitchen and Bar page you can read more about this unique produced wine.
Also another traditionaal made artful handiwork may be found in Marvao.
Between the town and the castle is the Museum of Marvão, a must with a natural image record of the history, costumes – fighting equipment – utensils and important archaeological finds from many centuries ago. Here you can also see how small the man was, so many centuries back.
Near the museum you will find a buffet restaurant with summer fruit sundaes, a cozy bar with the working lunch buffet. There are more restaurants in this castle town, on the site we can inform you about.
The same applies to the other restaurants in the area, as in Santo António das Areias, Beira and Castelo de Vide.
The municipality Marvão consists of several villages, called Freguesias, here are organized throughout the year many activities, there can not be said that something is bound to a particular season.
There are many sportive events such as the big triathlon, arrivals of cycling races, mountain bike races. For the folklore in song, music and costumes there is a lot of attention by the locals.
But also gastronomic festivals in the open air, like every year, the Feira de Gastronomia e Artesanato, art exhibitions which the castle is of course a magnificent setting and certainly may be called the annual grand medieval festival. This is a large fair in medieval atmosphere, which not only exhibitors wear medieval clothing, but you as a visitor can also attract medieval clothing.
The markets in the open air, where many tourists in Portugal is so famous for, are becoming more organized.
Marvão has many interesting sights. One of them is the limestone caves of Escusa. The economic operation began early in the XX century, the operation was stopped in the year 1960.
This includes a walking and cycling route from the campsite through the Serra de Selada and the excavations of the Roman city Ammaia, also leads through this unique caves. In 2014, these “Caleiras the Escusa” where declared as a national monument.
Staying with a camper on our campsite Beira-Marvão Alentejo and want to do some shopping, then there is a small car service available to you.
Within the surrounding castle walls of Marvao, formerly called the “sentinel of the border”, you will also find some nice restaurants and bars with stunning views to. Of course we inform our guests about that.
At the entrance you can see all the souvenir shop where some tidbits of Marvao, which are – on the spot – freshly baked. You can then go through two different routes to end your walk at the castle. If you like, you can also walk for a large part on the outer walls of the fort, to enjoy the magnificant panoramic views across Portugal, to the Serra de Estrela and deep into Spain.
We will tell you about the history of Marvão, a good reason to have that knowledge when you are going to visit this enormous castle.
Although the rooms of the castle had several goals, the fundamentals of Marvão are connected to the last quarter of the ninth century and up to the person of Ibn Maruan, who took refuge in this area during his rebellion against the Emirate of Cordoba. Taking advantage of the special characteristics of this place, he expand this castle, which was transformed resume and adapted by various rulers for more than 1000 years.
During the Reconquista Marvao was an important location, and after it was taken in the second half of the XIIth century by the Muslims, it was D. Afonso Henriques who integrated this fortress into the new kingdom of Portugal. Marvão but did not lose its important role. On the contrary, it proved to be an important stronghold for control and demarcation of the border with Spain, it obtained in 1226 the first charter of D. Sanco II.
After completion of the Christian reconquest was the defense division and part of everyday life, mainly caused by the constant present Spanish threat. To create a better guarantee and protect the country, D. Dinis amplified the castle in the early fourteenth century and surrounded it by urban buildings.
Several times this fort work was the center of the defense of the Portuguese border. It is important to recall the decisive role it had in conflicts, as in the Portuguese Restoration War (1640 – 1688), in the War of Succession (1701 – 1715), the Guerra Fantástica (1762 – 1763), during the Orange War (1801), in the War of the Peninsula / French invasion (1807-1811), the Portuguese civil War (1832-1834) and the period after the Revolution of Maria de Fonte and small Patuleia civil war.
For visiting the castle town of Marvao.o we have available for the guests of the campsite several sheets.
There are also very beautiful and especially unique trails from the campground to Marvao. One of them is about the original donkey path which Marvao used to Castelo de Vide covenant. Below, the view from the castle Marvao towards Castelo de Vide.
The road along the campsite did not exist yet. That connection is created later. The Hike trail between Castelo de Vide and Marvao is characterized by many small farms, with olives growing and intensive grazing by sheep and goats.
Four Castle Strongholds of Portugal, Marvao, Valenca, Elvas and Almeida are placed on the candidate list for inclusion on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The application focuses on the unique structures, coupled with their location on one of the oldest boundary lines of the world.
these forts were in past centuries of defensive bulwarks of peace monuments with a unique place in the history of human relations, culture and shared experiences. The architecturally valuable buildings enormous innovation then reflect. With unique structural solutions, with the construction of the geomorphology of the structures of the landscape has also had an important role.
Besides a unique intangible value of the four Portuguese fort works are a unique example of military architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries.