Marvão is a historical medieval town in the Portalegre region of Alentejo. It stands atop a rocky cliff in the Sierra de Sapoio mountains, at an elevation of 860 metres.
The greater municipal region of Marvão covers almost 155 square kilometres and has a population of 3,512. The town itself has around 105 inhabitants.
In the tenth century, the Cordobese historian Isa de Ibn Áhmad ar-Rázi referred to the rocky heights on which the town and fortifications stand as “Amaia de Ibn Maruán” and the “Amaia Fort, among other names”. Ibn Maruán was a Muladi from a noble family from Merida who led a rebellion against the Emirate of Cordoba, in the last quarter of the ninth century. The impregnable mountain range has served as a natural fortification throughout history, among others in 876-877 CE by Ibn Maruán, from whom the town takes its present name of Marvão.
The manmade walls and towers are integrated seamlessly into the rocky scarps. The chief sites of interest to visitors are the castle of Marvão with its imposing wall; the municipal museum, the cultural centre, the museum and ruins of the Roman city of Ammaia; the Quinhentista Bridge, the swimming pool, and the beach on the River Severe in Portagem. Situated in the Serra de São Mamede Nature Park, the Marvão region boasts unique flora and fauna and some stunning scenery. It also has leafy paths and fertile valleys, with excellent conditions for trekking, cycling and horse-riding.
Highlights in the cultural calendar include the Chestnut Fair, the Al Mossassa Islamic Festival (twinned with Badajoz), the International Festival of Classical Music and the International Film Festival. We also partner with our neighbours from Valencia de Alcántara across the border in Extremadura in a range of cultural and sporting events, including a recreation of the royal wedding between King Manuel I of Portugal (Manuel the Fortunate) and the Infanta Isabella of Aragon
The local cuisine is very traditional. Throughout the year, the municipality organises a range of gastronomic events, centring on oil, kid goat and lamb, cod, chestnuts and game. Desserts include chestnut sweets, boleima de maçã apple cake, etc.
Amongst Marvão’s best-known craft products are its traditional “chestnut peel embroidery”.
In every direction, magnificent scenery stretches as far as the eye can see. This is Marvão. The rhythm of the town is set by the natural heartbeat of the Serra de São Mamede Nature Park, surrounding the town on all sides. This idyllic landscape contains vestiges of the earliest human settlement in the area.
We are currently participating in two candidatures for world heritage site listings: the “Bulwarked Fortifications of the “Raia” (Border)” submitted in conjunction with Elvas, Almeida and Valença. and a joint candidacy with 20 other towns for the “intangible heritage of Amphora Wine (Vinho da Talha).”
Marvão: see it, feel it, enjoy it… and never forget it.
AMMAIA – Marvão, Portugal