There Are Still Places Like This!
Overlooking the River Guadiana, the village of Mértola offers visitors the charm of whitewashed houses on terraced streets adorned with orange trees and illuminated by bright sunlight. The streets lined with time-worn flagstones, witness to the history of a town surrounded by the old wall and forever marked by the cultural heritage of the many peoples who met here, giving it the title of museum town.
At one point an important trading post, when it was the last port north of the “rio grande do sul” (“great river of the south”), as the River Guadiana is known, Mértola was a stopping point for Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Suebi and Visigoths, Arabs and Christians. Today, this historical legacy can still be seen in the many museum centres of the Museum of Mértola distributed around the town, in the features of the houses, the singing of the voices, in the letters and words, in the aromas and flavours, in the art of eating well and welcoming.
Beyond the bustle of the town, the horizon invites you to wander through the landscape, which changes from gentle hills and rolling plains, to abrupt slopes and dense areas of juniper scrub land alongside the Guadiana river. These lands are part of the vast area of the Vale do Guadiana Natural Park, a refuge for emblematic species such as the Iberian imperial eagle, the black stork, the otter, the wild cat, several species of bats, reptiles and amphibians, and a flora rich in aromatic and medicinal plants that give the fields a unique colour and aroma.
O Pulo do Lobo, the river beach of Tapada Grande, the channels of the Guadiana, the old mining complex of S. Domingos or the old river port of Pomarão are but some of the places worth visiting in a municipality that is vast in space and tranquillity. Throughout the year, the landscape varies between winter green and spring colours. Summer leaves the landscape dry and golden, like the deserts of the south. The seasonal hot, dry south-eastern wind (locally known as the “Suão”) stirs up the accustomed quiet of the town, which is kept active, throughout the year, by several cultural events. Not to be missed are the River Fish Festival, Islamic Festival, the Town Feast and the Hunting Fair. And as the Alentejo is not only known for its calm, there are plenty of options for days full of excitement: a trip down the river, a paragliding trip, walking a trail on a moonlit night, a hunt in the municipality, which is the National Hunting Capital, a trip in an all-terrain vehicle or a boat ride on the Guadiana, are only some of them.
In the presence of so many delights, do not forget the local cuisine and the excellent food products such as the sausages and hams, cheeses, bread or rosemary honey, to be tasted here or taken home as a memento. On the road to the Parish Church (previously a mosque), a stop at the Weaving Workshop is a must. An integral part of the Museum of Mértola, woollen blankets are still woven on traditional looms here.
Here, there are many reasons to visit and stay on. Today, the municipality is one of those places of tradition, warmth and tranquillity and lived experience where it is pleasant to spend time and enjoy oneself!
Welcome to Mértola!