You cannot miss but visiting Marvao. Marvão can be spotted from dozens of kilometers ahead. Its massive castle- actually the whole citadel- capture the attention of the tourists from afar. Whenever you enter the medieval gates of the village, you freeze in wonder. These are the best-preserved remains of a past era, but not the only ones. The area of the Alentejo has been inhabited for at least 6,000 years; as a result, remainders of past civilizations have survived in multiple locations. They are well hidden, though. This is an article for those who want to feel like Indiana Jones, since the ruins mentioned below, are not even visible while in the "official" routes…
At the very border between Spain and Portugal, there is an ancient granite mountain. There are some holes in it, therefore be aware, inside there are vultures’ nests. These huge, impressive creatures (three meters from wing to wing!) will fly over your heads very close, but don't you worry; they only eat dead animals. At the bottom of the mountain, there are some red sticks, showing you the way to the most known and most visited cave. The rest of the caves are on the Portuguese side. You will have to look for them since they are not signaled. On the Spanish side, there are ropes and ladders to help you go up. On the way, you will pass a marine fossil, a proof that this mountain used to be under the ocean. Once up, enjoy the view and look for the paintings. They are very schematic, hence very old. There are a couple of men painted, maybe a fern but again, nothing is visible clearly. We will never know what these people wanted to tell us through these symbols….
Not far from Puerto Roque, at the top of a hill, are the ruins of a Celtic (or maybe even older) village. This village is said to have been abandoned when the Roman city of Ammaia was built. The latter had running water at the houses, thermae, etc., and life was definitely more comfortable there. This fact, of course, means that the "still standing" village was never destroyed. Nowadays, it is hidden by the tall grass, but the visitor can still wander around and discover the ruins of more than twenty houses. These houses appear in many different shapes. This kind of homes was even used by the shepherds, up until some decades ago. They were quickly constructed with granite wall and with retama for the roof. At Crença, one can see how strategic the place was by observing the fantastic view offered right on this spot. Sunset is the best time to visit it: the rays of the sun hiding behind Marvão give the grass a spectacular golden glow.
There is only one way up from the bottom; you have to start from the ruins. The Celtics did an outstanding job at protecting their place: there are two rows of walls! Thus, the visitor has to climb from rock to rock. If you are feeling hot after the climbing, follow the official route, cross the stream on the stepping stones, and to the right, you'll find a meadow. At the end of it, there is the river Sever. In this place it flows deeper, creating a natural swimming pool. Only local people know about this, so you will likely be swimming alone. You are in the middle of the Natural Park of São Mamede. Enjoy the peace, feel the nature. It’s a virgin place.
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