It is believed that the construction of the castle dates back to the 12th century, when Afonso Henriques, first King of Portugal, granted the Foral Charter to Marialva in order to promote the settlement and defense of the town.
On the beginning of the 13th century, King Sancho I continued the construction of the castle, extending its walls to surround the town.
King Dinis established the monthly market in 1286. It was at that time that the measures of the “palmo” (span), “côvado” (cubit) and “vara” (pole) were carved at the main entrance of the castle, the “Porta do Anjo da Guarda” (Guardian Angel Door). These measures were used for trading inside the castle. At that time there weren’t standardized measure units, so the same measure unit usually varied from location to location. These carved measures at the castle entrance indicated the measures used in Marialva village.
In the 16th century the castle suffered several restoration campaigns.
It is recorded that on the beginning of the 18th century the castle was in perfect state of conservation.
However this situation changed after 1779, when Marquis of Távora, who was the warden of the castle at that time, was accused of being involved in the attempted murder of King José I of Portugal and, consequently, him and his family were sentenced to death. The population of Marialva began to abandon the town, moving to the lands outside the walls of the castle, which were less cursed by the unfortunate memory of Távoras family.
In the 20th century the castle was found in ruins and it suffered an intensive reconstruction.
Nowadays Marialva Castle is one of the main touristic attractions of Mêda Municipality.
Marialva Castle is a Romanesque castle that comprises two walled areas, the citadel and the urban nucleus.
“Porta do Anjo da Guarda” (Guardian Angel ‘s Door) – it’s the main entrance and it’s where the measures of the “palmo” (span), “côvado” (cubit) and “vara” (rod?) are carved.
“Porta do Monte” (Hill’s Door) or “Porta da Forca” (Gallows Door)
“Porta de Santa Maria” (Saint Marie’s Door)
“Postigo” (Postern), also known as “Porta da Traição” (Traitor’s door) – it is a gap on the wall that would be used as an escape route for the castle occupants during a siege.
“Torre do Relógio”(Clock Tower)
“Torre do Monte” (Hill Tower)
“Torre dos Namorados” (Lovers Tower) or “Torre da Relação” (Relationship Tower)
The citadel is the military area, therefore it is located at the highest point of the terrain.
It is composed by the wall, the keep and the cistern, whose walls are covered with mortar.
The citadel’s wall has two openings, the gate, which is the entrance door, and the postern or traitor’s door.
“Casa da Câmara” (town hall)
“Casa dos Magistrados” (Magistrates’ House) – housed the court and the prison.
“Pelourinho” (Pillory) – dated from the 16th century, with Manueline characteristics.
“Capela do Senhor dos Passos” (Chapel of the Lord of Steps) – chapel probably from the 17th century that has a coffered vault.
“Igreja de Santiago” (Santiago Church) – Manueline church from the 16th century.
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