Perched on a rocky crag in the Serra de São Mamede, Marvão is a whitewashed town near Portugal’s border with Spain. It takes its name from the Moorish warrior, Ibn Marwan, who was responsible for constructing its centuries-old castle. Marvão is renowned for its annual festivals dedicated to chestnuts and classical music.
Things to do in Marvão
Dominating the town is Marvão Castle, a beautifully preserved medieval fortification that dates back to the late 13th century. It offers sweeping views across the mountainous terrain that surrounds Marvão, all the way to the Spanish border. While exploring the castle’s thick granite walls, cisterns and central keep, learn about its role as a Moorish stronghold and its capture by King Alfonso I in the 1160s.
Nestled at the foot of Marvão Castle is the Igreja de Santa Maria, a 13th-century church that has housed the Municipal Museum since 1987. In addition to exhibits detailing the local archaeology and ethnography, it features displays of antique armoury and sacred artwork. Highlights of the collection include 3rd-century-BC stonework, Jewish gravestones and herbal ingredients from the Middle Ages.
A short drive from Marvão is the Ponte Romana da Portagem, a 16th-century bridge constructed with materials from its Roman predecessor. The bridge’s well-preserved arches span the Rio Sever, which is fringed by a leafy park with a children’s playground and an outdoor swimming pool. You can photograph the bridge from the River Beach or grab a drink at the adjacent Sever Rio Caffe.
Getting around Marvão
Marvão is just over an hour’s drive from Elvas and 1.5 hours from Badajoz Airport, which has regular flights to Barcelona and Madrid. Buses connect to Marvão from destinations across Portugal and the town is compact enough to explore on foot.