Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Portugal: Day 9

by Kathy 7. April 2011 18:42

Back to Portugal Index Page

<< Day 8: Miniatures and Majesty of Coimbra | Day 10: Roman Ruins and Bones in Évora >>


Marvão, the Eagle’s Nest

We would have loved to have spent another day wandering the twisted streets of Coimbra, but today we were heading to another beautiful place—a tiny castle-town that was almost on the Spanish border.

Before departing, we enjoyed a relaxing breakfast at the hotel:

Sebastian was eager to get the day started!

Away from the hilly historic district, the more modern part of Coimbra had a wide main boulevard that carried us out of the city:

Our drive took us south-east through many small communities:

The twin towers from a coal-fired power plant rose above the trees near the town of Pego:

Although we prefer 2-lane back roads, we didn’t want a long drive today, so we zipped across the central portion of Portugal on the modern toll-road:

Another hill-top wind turbine:

Stopping for gas at one of the clean and efficient petrol stations along the highway:

We soon left the highway behind and continued on 2-lane roads up into the eastern hills. Entering the town of Alpalhão:

(From the look of the smeared blotches on our windscreen, central Portugal had some big flying bugs. Sorry!)

Many of the buildings had white-washed faces with painted trim along the ground and corners:

The road between towns was usually lined with trees and small boundary walls:

We rounded one corner and spotted a castle, with a town spread out around it like a skirt.

The town was Castelo de Vide. We hadn’t planned to stop here, but it just looked too inviting. We headed for the main plaza to see what we could find for lunch.

Ben and Genevieve in Dom Pedro V Square, with the church of São João Baptista:

There was a modern “mother and child” sculpture in front of the church:

We walked a big loop through the side streets, looking at all the architectural details on the buildings.

Then we returned to the plaza area for a relaxing lunch upstairs at Doces & Companhia. Here is Genevieve with her ice cream from the downstairs gelataria:

Another view of the plaza area with the castle up above:

Near the plaza was a large playground. Here are Sebastian and Genevieve at the entrance, next to a bench of local men with their caps and canes:

Our kids joined the handful of local children climbing and playing:

Back on the road, we only had a 15-minute drive to our resting spot for tonight—Marvão. The trees that lined our way had white paint around their lower trunks:

In addition to protecting the trees from bugs, the white paint is easy to see at night and helps drivers identify the edges of the road.

The protective bricks around this stark tree indicated that the tree perhaps may hold some historical or artistic significance, but we have been unable to discover any information about it.

The road signs were easy to follow—we were almost there!

Marvão is an enclosed castle-town that is often referred to as the “Eagle’s Nest.” The town walls rise up from the top of a long craggy mountain, forming extensions of the sheer cliffs underneath.

We could see the mountain in front of us, with the castle towers poking up on the left side, and bits of white-washed town buildings visible on the right:

A closer look at the castle side, where one of the towers was covered in scaffolding:

But for the presence of cars, we could have been entering a town that had been frozen in the medieval ages:

Our hotel was the Pousada de Santa Maria de Marvão, which was spread out in two renovated medieval homes:

Genevieve and Sebastian liked the chess and checkers sets in the lobby:

After we had settled into our room, we took a walk through the cobblestone streets:

Our path led to the castle at the other end of the village:

Despite his serious expression, Sebastian was eager to explore the castle:

While this area has been occupied by many groups of people, including the Romans and the Moors, most of the existing castle had been built under the direction of King Dinis in the 13th century.

The builders had integrated the existing rocky terrain into the castle design. To Sebastian, rocks exist for climbing purposes—so climb he did!

Near the castle entrance, the word “castelo” was spelled out in green plants:

One portion of the castle wall had a round hole, perhaps intended for a protruding canon, and a small watchtower:

Sebastian, in the watchtower:


From here, we had an extensive view out over the surrounding countryside:

The village stretched back along the mountain top:

Marvão currently has a population of about 150 people and derives much of its income through tourism. The old Santa Maria church, standing near the castle in the above photo, now houses a tourism office and a small museum.

The castle had little nooks and crannies that Genevieve and Sebastian loved to investigate. Here, Genevieve was thrilled to discover what looked like the castle toilet:

Ben led us down the narrow steps into the cisterna, a large storage area that held the castle’s water supply:

I have to admit that going into the cisterna area felt very freaky, as if I were going to suffocate. I even had trouble getting close enough to look at the dark pool of water—very similar to what I feel when looking down over the edge of a high, steep cliff. (Oh, the things we learn about ourselves while traveling!)

Another fun part of the castle was traversing the old walls. We were “experts” after walking along the walls at Óbidos--the kids knew to stay away from the inside edge, I no longer felt compelled to call out “Stay close to the wall!” every 15 seconds, and Ben stuck like glue to Sebastian so that Sebastian’s little “happy feet” wouldn’t dance right off the side.

Thankfully, many of the upper walkways had a short “lip” on the interior edge.


Ben and Sebastian:

Some walkways, however, offered a straight drop-off and required extra care:

We covered every inch of the walls, seeking out all of the tiny watchtowers:

Some of the towers were not reachable, but we still enjoyed their beauty:

Genevieve, on the wall:

A closer view of the red-tile rooftops of Marvão:

Sebastian, descending the wall:

Near the very back of the castle was a small open area with several old cannons:

Down below, we noticed all the walls that divided the land into oddly shaped parcels.

From here, we also got a closer look at the scaffolding that covered one tower:

Sebastian and Genevieve, with another small cannon:

Ben, Sebastian and Genevieve, going through a castle doorway:

More rocks to climb inside the castle walls:

Ben and Sebastian, leaving the castle:

Genevieve and I stopped by the municipal museum inside the Santa Maria church, which had archeological artifacts and other items related to the history of Marvão.

Nearby was a beautiful blue cart:

I loved the detail found in some of the old buildings:

Sebastian and Genevieve were thrilled to find a small playground, which looked fairly new:

Sebastian, the pirate:

Ben took Sebastian on a fast and furious airplane ride (note, the photo was taken seconds before the “crash landing”—ouch!):

Genevieve met a Spanish girl on vacation with her parents, and she was excited about being able to communicate basic Spanish sentences—“My name is . . . “, “I am 8 years old,” “I’m from the United States,” and more.

Genevieve took this photo as evidence that the kids weren’t the only ones having fun:

Next to the playground was a round stone house with a sod roof:

Nearby was a small, lovely church with a bell tower and wooden doors:

We had a quiet dinner at the pousada restaurant. While waiting for the food to arrive, Genevieve wrote about today’s activities in her travel journal:

We had really enjoyed the “fairy tale” aspect of Marvão, with its beautiful castle and white-washed buildings. Once again, Portugal had served us a small slice of heaven. Surely, it wouldn’t get any better than this. But, amazingly enough, it would . . . .

Back to Portugal Index Page

<< Day 8: Miniatures and Majesty of Coimbra | Day 10: Roman Ruins and Bones in Évora >>

Map of Our Journeys

(click the map to enlarge)
Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin