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The Alentejo - Travel Guide



The Roman Mírtilis, Arab Mirtolah or Portuguese Mértola, overlooking the river Guadiana, is of great historical interest. Mértola surprises the visitor with its rich heritage and amazing position. In fact, this charming, whitewashed town is like a living museum with discoveries from different periods displayed in separate areas.

Mértola is an archaeological jewel, with excavations revealing remains from the town’s many rulers of the past 2000 years. The City ´s origins date back to the Phoenicians, who created an important fluvial port, later enjoyed by the Romans and the Moors. Its many treasures can be seen at the Roman Nucleus, the Visigothic Nucleus and the Islamic Nucleus. Inside its walls thrives a beautiful town, rich in simple houses, old cannons, and flowers. The vast cistern and castle keep are testaments to the town’s bellicose past. It also boasts the only still-standing Moorish mosque in Portugal. The square mosque, now a church, is a unique example of the lost riches of Moorish Portugal.

The wild Guadiana valley has a rich and varied fauna (it is home to the black stork, foxes, boars, hares and partridges, among others) and has been designated a Natural Park. At Mértola, the local restaurants offer good Alentejan specialities and also abundant fresh fish from the Guadiana, such as eels, shad and mullet.

Facts - Sights - History - Restaurants - Pictures Slideshow - Maps (1) (2)


Region: Alentejo wappen
Sub-region: Baixo Alentejo
District: Beja
Inhabitants (2001): 3 100 (City); 8 712 (District)
Parishes (9): Alcaria Ruiva, Corte do Pinto, Espírito, Santo Mértola, Santana de Cambas, São João dos Caldeireiros, São Miguel do Pinheiro, São Pedro de Solis, São Sebastião dos Carros
Area: 1 279,40 km²
Coordinates: 37º38'N 7º39'W
Municipality: Câmara Municipal de Mértola, Praça Luís de Camões, 7750-329 Mértola



Mértola´s origins date back to the Phoenicians, who created an important fluvial port.

Once known as Myrtillis Romana, the place flourished in the days of the Romans. Its vast walls were not enough to save the town from the Barbarian onslaught that ended Roman rule of the Iberian Peninsula. But, the 8th century arrival of the Moors brought a new period of prosperity. In 1238 the Portuguese king Dom Sancho II took the castle and handed it over to the Order of St. James. By 1300 a new castle had risen from the ruins of the old. The walls remained in constant reconstruction with Spain just across the river.

Alentejo > Travel guide > Beja > Mertola


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