Marvao – Alentejo, Portugal

A Medieval Castle and Cozy Inn That Looks Down on Eagles

Three thousand feet below the hilltop town of Marvao spreads the Alentejo heartland of Portugal. Huddled within fortified 13th-century ramparts, Marvao is one of the country’s most charming castle towns, with a population of just 300. It is intimate enough for you to quickly absorb its strong medieval character and small-town quaintness.

Check into the cozy Pousada de Santa Maria. It doesn’t pretend to have the landmark grandeur or imposing facade of other pousadas, and that is much of its charm. It has been converted from adjoining 18th-century village houses, with red-tile floors, beamed ceilings, and stone fireplaces decorated with azulejo tiles.

Spectacular views from the restaurant over the distant mountains to Spain, nearly 4 miles away, explain why Marvao was such a vital piece in the military chess game played out over the centuries between Spain and Portugal. This enchanting castle-inn is a good place to be alone with your thoughts and “look down on the eagles,” as one Portuguese poet put it.

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