Mértola and its Moorish heritage, Portugal

Mértola is a village in the southern area of Alentejo, near the border with Spain.

To think about Mértola is to think about the colorful Moorish occupation during the Dark Ages in Portugal.

Not too far away from this village, at Minas de São Domingos, the Romans were there ten centuries before the Moorish.

What about that as a vacation destination?

In my memories, Mértola is linked to the beginning or end of many adventures.

Mértola is also linked to traveling to the Algarve.

Many years ago, driving to the Algarve from Lisbon could be a nightmare. The traffic could be horrendous.

A way to avoid the most used road was to take the road crossing Mértola.

Stopping at Mértola was a must, and the ideal pit stop was the Café Guadiana.

I can’t remember any specialty at Café Guadiana. Still, stopping here was a treat and a tradition.

It represented a milestone in the four-hour trip, the “we have to” kind of thing.

Nowadays, Café Guadiana is a well-modernized bar and is a pleasure to stop here, with no disrespect to my old memories of the place.

I’ve had the pleasure of going to Mértola countless times in the past. However, still, I had the notion that I didn’t know much about the village and always hoped that someday to discover narrow streets.

Indeed, my fault.

Being a history buff, the dense Arab heritage of this village buzzes my imagination about Reconquest times.

So I went there for a few days to photograph and feel the place.

It is a village where it is worth stopping and strolling through its narrow alleys.

Like so many other localities in Alentejo, the white color of their houses gives it a clean and organized look, a pleasure for the eyes.

Maybe that’s why I couldn’t resist photographing Mértola from various perspectives around the village.

The river passing by the village is called Guadiana.

Navigating the Guadiana about seven kilometers upstream from Mértola, we reach an area known as Moinho dos Canais where we can also access by car.

From Moinho dos Canais we can start an easy canoe descent to the village.

If we want a more extended adventure, then we can put our gear on the back of the canoe and head downstream towards Vila Real de Santo António.

Vila Real de Santo António is where the mouth of the river is.

It’s two days of canoeing from Mértola to Vila Real de Santo António.

I will leave the gastronomy to another post. Anyway, I think you have more than enough reasons to visit Mértola.

For sure, I will return again soon.

Have fun.

David Monteiro

Mértola and its Moorish heritage, Portugal
Mértola and its Moorish heritage, Portugal
Mértola and its Moorish heritage, Portugal

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