Marvão is located on the highest peak of the Serra de São Mamede; it is a multitude of white houses enclosed within a well preserved walled city.
Seen from above, the city is characterized by a very peculiar shape, almost uneven compared to other cities perched on a hill. Instead of having a circular shape, Marvão has a narrow and long shape with steep slopes on its three sides and one single pedestrian access from the east side.
Located in the Alentejo – a charming region in the Portuguese hinterland not too far from the boarders with Spain – Marvão has always played a key role within the history of Portugal thanks to its strategic location.
Today Marvão’s economy is based on tourism; tourists traveling from Lisbon on a day trip or exploring the region on a tour around Central Portugal are fascinated by the beautiful medieval castle, the narrow streets of the old town, the wrought iron balconies, the windows with Manueline decorations, and the Gothic arches. Everything in Marvão seems like a fairytale.
A magnificent medieval castle stands on the western end of Marvão; it is a small city within the city open to visitors, featuring towers, walls, souvenir shops, and a small cafe.
Originally built towards the end of the 13th century and then rebuilt in the 17th century, the castle of Mavrão conquers many tourists thanks to the beautiful view of the Alentejo plain that one can enjoy from its walls. However, the castle itself is a very impressive sight.
South-east to the castle there is the Municipal Museum, located inside the former church of Santa Maria. It is a small yet well manicured museum, exhibiting a collection of relics since the Paleolithic age. It represents a good start to learn more about the history of the region. Take some time to visit also the Casa da Cultura, a cultural center located in the center of Marvão displaying temporary exhibitions.
Among the most interesting religious buildings there is the Santiago Church, the Renaissance Holy Spirit Chapel, and the Convent of Nossa Senhora da Estrela, located outside the city walls.
Near Marvão you can visit the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Ammaia, as well as a museum exhibiting some relics.
The best panoramic view of Marvão
The most spectacular attraction of Marvão is its beautiful view over the surrounding countryside.
The best viewpoints are: the Watchtower as well as the Pousada de Santa Maria, a very elegant guesthouse characterized by beautiful glass windows to enjoy the view.
If you don’t want to stay at the Pousada you can still dine at its restaurant which offers some traditional dishes from the Alentejo region. Be careful, though; it won’t be easy to focus on the menu once you find yourself in front of such a spectacular view!
Don’t miss the chance to experience a dreamy night; sleeping in such a charming city like Marvão is an unforgettable experience. When the sun sets and all the tourists have left there is a magic atmosphere in the air.
Despite being a pretty small town, Marvão offers a good choice of accommodations at more convenient rates compared to other touristic towns of Portugal.
You can choose to stay in a small hotel or guesthouse in the old town, including the luxurious Pousada de Santa Maria, which is highly recommended for its panoramic view. You can also choose to spend the night at a traditional Portuguese quinta located not too far from the center in order to combine culture with nature and relax.
It is not possible to reach Marvão by public transportation, therefore it is necessary to rent a car. Marvão is located 240 km from Lisbon and it takes about two hours and a half driving on motorway A1 and A23.
An alternative for those who don’t want to drive in Portugal is to join a day tour from Lisbon that includes Marvão.