Mertola, old village at Portugal

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Spectacularly set on a rocky spur, high above the peaceful Rio Guadiana, the cobbled streets of medieval Mértola are a delightful place to roam. A small but imposing castle stands high, overlooking the jumble of dazzlingly white houses and a picturesque church that was once a mosque. A long bout of economic stagnation in this remote town has left many traces of Islamic occupation intact, so much so that Mértola is considered a vila museu (open-air museum). To let Mértola’s magic do its thing, you need more than a quick visit here. Every two years in May, Mértola comes to life during the town’s Islamic Festival.

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