Suggestions in this region 7 Regions ALENTEJO BAIXO ALENTEJO MÉRTOLA

MÉRTOLA

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Situated near the border between Alentejo and the Algarve, 50km south from Beja, Mértola has come to life after going through a long lethargic period. Like princesses in fairy tales, Mértola has plenty of admirers from all over the country and even foreign ones. This town stretches along the right Guadiana riverbank, near the meeting point of Guadiana with Oeiras river stream. Its rich past has brought Mértola back to life, and its visitors can see it in an organized way. This river port has played a crucial role until the end of the 12th century, for over a thousand years. Archaeological excavations began in 1987 under the supervision of archaeologist Cláudio Torres, revealing housing, trade and religious structures that help understand everyday life of the different people who settled here: Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, Arabs and Christians. Situated on the limits of Guadiana’s navigability, Mértola was the centre of Mediterranean trade routes. Copper and precious metals from the neighbour S. Domingos mines, explored since the Roman Empire, were shipped here. From the 8th century, this town lived the Islamic period. In the 11th century, it was the capital of a Taifa kingdom that covered Beja and Silves. In 1238 Mértola was conquered by the kights of Santiago Order, enetering a period of decay, since it lost its commercial routes. In the beginning of the 90’s of the 20th century, the town won recognition once more. Cultural tourism became the engine of local development, stimulating the creation of restaurants, hotels and some economical activity that this rather isolated council well deserved. Apart from the already significant domains of heritage, history and handicraft, there are also the beautiful landscapes of Guadiana Valley Nature Park, including Pulo do Lobo waterfall and São Domingos Mine, a treasure of industrial archaeology.

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