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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.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Mértola.