Trip to North Alentejo – day 2

DAY 1 (15th March 2014) – Castelo de Vide and Marvão
Accommodation: Varanda do Alentejo (Marvão) – 42€/double room (without breakfast)
Dinner: Varanda do Alentejo (Marvão) – 13€/pax
Pastry: “Boleimas da Maçã” – 0.80€/unit
DAY 2 (16th March 2014) – Marvão, Portalegre and Elvas
Accommodation: D. Dinis (Elvas) – 47€/double room (breakfast included)
Dinner: O Lagar (Elvas) – 13€/pax
Museums/Monuments: Roman Villa of Ammaia – 2€/pax
DAY 3 (17th March 2014) – Elvas
Pastry: Sericaia – 8€

 

Marvão
On the 2nd day (16th March 2014) of our 3 days trip to the North Alentejo we visited the beautiful village of Marvão, where we had spent the night.

Marvão is located in the highest point of São Mamede Mountain, near the border with Spain. Due to its strategic location, Marvão was an important defensive point for many centuries.
Nowadays, Marvão offers a peaceful and relaxing environment, with its stunning views, the lovely white houses, the beautiful gardens and its narrow and winding streets.

Marvão Castle

Marvão Castle

After breakfast, we went for a walk to get to know Marvão and to look for some caches. It was Sunday morning and the village was very quiet.
We went towards “Igreja do Calvário” (Calvary Church), then we went outside the walls of Marvão to have a look at the “Convento de Nossa Senhora da Estrela” (Convent of Our Lady of the Star). The Convent was built in 1448, in accordance with the prevailing Gothic style at the time.

Back to within the village walls, we found a beautiful garden next to “Igreja de S. Tiago” (St. James Church) and to “Igreja de Santa Maria” (St. Mary Church). We spent some time there enjoying the view over the village of Portagem, where we had been on the previous day.

At last, we visited the Castle of Marvão. Its origin dates back to the Islamic Period and it suffered several reconstructions over time. Nowadays, it is classified as a National Monument and it is in a good state of conservation.
Immediately after we crossed the main entrance, we visited the cistern, which is the biggest one I ever saw. It is about 10 meters height and 46 meters long. We continued exploring the Castle. We climbed to the castle walls, to the towers, went inside the sentry boxes, saw the cannons in the bulwarks. And, most off all, we enjoyed the stunning views and took a lot of pictures!

Before we left the Castle, we looked for another geocache, the last one found in Marvão.
We left Marvão at about 11h30 and went towards Portalegre. We made a small stop to visit the ruins of Ammaia.

South Doorway

South Doorway

Ammaia is a former Roman City located in the municipality of Marvão, founded in the 1st century. Nowadays, we can visit the Monographic Museum to see the wide collection of materials found in the archaeological excavations. From the Museum, we have access to the ruins of Ammaia. There are three areas of note:
– “Porta Sul” (South Doorway)
– “Termas do Fórum” (Forum Bath Complex)
– “Fórum e Templo” (Forum and Temple)

Portalegre
We had lunch when we arrived in Portalegre. We went to Pingo Doce supermarket to buy some bread, salad, fruit and canned fish. That was our lunch.

Plane Tree

Plane Tree

Now we were ready to visit the city. Once again, geocaching was our guide. But this time we tried a different type of geocache. We did our first wherigo! Wherigo is a platform to create location based GPS adventures and to play them in the real world. This kind of geocache allows the geocachers to interact with physical and virtual elements such as objects or characters while still find a physical geocache container.

The wherigo Portalegre is a great way to get to know Portalegre. Following the instructions of this wherigo, we went on a 3 hours walking tour of the city sights (Crisfal Theatre, Cathedral, Castle, Corredoura Garden, Former Cork Factory).
When we passed by Rossio Garden we saw a tree with the biggest crown we have ever saw. This plane tree, planted in 1838, has a crown diameter of about 27 meters, which is the biggest one in the whole Iberian Peninsula.
After we completed that quest, we returned to the Castle of Portalegre. There was no entrance fee and, due to its small size, the visit didn’t take long.

Arronches
43_alentejo_vacasIt was time to go back to the road. We had to be in Elvas at dinner time and we wanted to stop at “Atalaia de Arronches” (Arronches Watchtower) to look for the cache hidden in there and to walk about 3 Km from there to “Necrópole do Baldio” (Necropolis of the empty lot). This necropolis is a group of 5 graves carved in the rock, on the left bank of Caia river.

When we arrived at the Watchtower it was already sunset time. We walked fast and we even ran towards the Necropolis. However, we were stopped by a closed gate when we had walked more than half the way. After some hesitation, we decided not to cross that gate and to go back. Although we had not succeeded to reach our final destination, that walk was very pleasant. The surrounding landscape is incredible! There were a lot of cows quietly grazing. The ones that were near the path were afraid of us and run away to a more distant spot. Because of the sunset colors, the landscape looked even more beautiful.

It was already night when we left that place and went to Elvas.

Elvas
We stayed at the “Hotel D. Dinis”, which is located outside the city walls, near Amoreira Aqueduct. There’s a huge parking lot in front of the Hotel, where we parked the car. After we checked in, we went to the city center to have dinner. We had asked the hotel receptionist for a nice restaurant nearby and we were not disappointed by his suggestion – Restaurant “O Lagar”.

I ordered “migas com carne de porco” (bread stew with fried pork) and JB ordered “carne de porco à Alentejana”, (fried pork with clams accompanied by potatoes). These dishes are not the best option to eat at dinner, because of the amount of fat, but they were very tasty. The size portions were huge! We didn’t eat half the food served. We should have order just 1 dish for both of us instead of 2 dishes. It was a pity to waste so much food…
After that dinner we had to go for a walk before we return to the hotel.

Marvão

Ammaia

Portalegre

Arronches

Elvas

1 Response to “Trip to North Alentejo – day 2

  1. Pingback: Trip to North Alentejo – day 1 | Backpack Tourist

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