MÉRTOLA HERITAGE TOUR CIRCUIT
Since the beginning of the 1980s of the 20th century, that an intense archaeological activity revealed the village’s grand past. The traces show the presence of Iberians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians, in occupations that aimed at controlling the trade routes. The most important historical periods of the town were the roman Myrtilis lulia, the islamic Martulah and the christian Mértola. In successive archaeological campaigns were discovered several architectural traces, artifacts of arts and crafts and all sort of objects of the daily life attesting the importance of town during these periods. The testimonies collected, rigorously studied and preserved in succeeding archaeological campaigns today are the sediment of the identity of this territory and constitute the collections of their various museums. Mértola is a living museum, which goes beyond the walls of their 14 centers. The museum is also present in the trace of the streets, the architecture of the houses, the human and natural landscape and in the culture and traditions that even today many efforts to preserve.
S. DOMINGOS MINE, THE MINING ROUTE
The mining area of São Domingos, part of the Iberian Pyrite Belt, was from ancient times a sought after place for the extraction of minerals. Its modern operation began in 1858, at the initiative of the “Mason & Barry” mining company, which continued to operate it until 1966, with around 108 years of regular operation. The Mining Route evokes the mine’s recent past, with a path that passes through streets in S. Domingos Mine, the paths of the old mining complex, continuing along the old railway that ends at the river village of Pomarão, where the old river port from where the mined ore was shipped is located.
PULO DO LOBO
Pulo de Lobo (“Wolf’s Leap”) is the heart of the Vale do Guadiana Natural Park. In this 16 metre waterfall (the main geological feature of this Great River of the South), one can feel the earth’s forces in action, which have moulded the river valley, creating a rocky gorge that climbs the river in the direction of its source. This is the home of the black stork, the royal eagle and black vulture. Around it, the Mediterranean scrub fills us with colours and smells. The enchantment around this place is beyond compare, and we can even imagine a wolf leaping between the edges of the gorge at its narrowest point. Pulo is geological, representing landscape and biodiversity, while also being a symbol of the restlessness of a river that cannot resist joining the sea farther to the south.
RIVER BEACH OF THE S. DOMINGOS MINE
If you are driving from Mértola on road N265, prepare to be surprised by a vast, clear and calm water body, surrounded by shade trees on the shores of a river beach of white sand. First built to supply the settlement and mining works, this reservoir today takes on other, more recreational purposes. For bathing, the bathing season begins June 15 and ends September 15, but the beach is a place to be enjoyed all year round!
Throughout the Arab Festival, all of Mértola resounds with a mixture of sounds from the other side of the Mediterranean. In the “souk” (tradition Arab market), the leather goods, the djellabas, the incense, the sandalwood, the mint tea, the spices and the mixture of Arabic and Portuguese voices give a special colour, aroma and melody to the streets covered with cloth; a perfect refuge from the sun.
On those days, the encounter of cultures is celebrated through music, in which the voices of “Cante Alentejano” (traditional Alentejo singing), the strumming of lutes and the drumming of darbukas can be heard. But the festival is also the conferences, the exhibitions, the theater, the gastronomy, the heritage, the workshops, the arts and crafts and the awareness of the local history and legacy. With the festival we praise a community opened to culture diversity and intercultural awareness; a community focused on cross-culture dialog and conviviality.The festival takes place every two years in the month of May.