MERTOLA, PORTUGAL: General view of the fortified village and the surrounding hills from the castle; Shutterstock ID 511409617; Your name (First / Last): Tom Stainer; GL account no.: 65050 ; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial ; Full Product or Project name including edition: Best in Europe 2017

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Parque Natural do Vale do Guadiana


Created in 1995, this zone of hills, plains and deep valleys around Serpa and Mértola shelters the Rio Guadiana, one of Portugal’s largest and most important rivers. Among its rich flora and fauna are several rare or endangered species, including the black stork (sightings of the shy creatures are rare), lesser kestrel (most likely around Castro Verde and at Convento do São Francisco), Bonelli’s eagle, royal owl, grey kite, horned viper and Iberian toad. The park also has prehistoric remains.

Ask at the park headquarters, in smart premises by the câmara municipal (town hall), for details of walking trails and where to spot wildlife – they can advise you and provide you with a basic map.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Mértola attractions

1. Museu Paleocristão

1.18 MILES

This museum, north of the old town, features a partly reconstructed line of 6th-century Roman columns and poignant funerary stones, some of which are…

2. Casa de Mértola

1.34 MILES

Next to the turismo, this small two-room house shows what living conditions were like for Mértolans up until fairly recent times (the 1970s).

3. Alcáçova

1.35 MILES

This site contains the ruins of what was once a thriving Islamic neighbourhood. Some 20 dwellings were here, each with a classic Mediterranean layout – a…

4. Casa Islâmica

1.36 MILES

Next to the alcáçova (citadel), this interpretation centre is an accurately sized replica of an Islamic residence dating from the 12th century. Key…

5. Igreja Matriz

1.37 MILES

Mértola’s striking parish church – square, flat-faced and topped with whimsical little conical decorations – is known because in a former incarnation it…

6. Torre de Menagem

1.39 MILES

Inside the castle walls, this prominent tower has exhibitions related to the history of Mértola, with several worthwhile (if dramatically scored) videos…

7. Castelo


Above the parish church looms Mértola’s fortified castle, most of which dates from the 13th century. It was built upon Moorish foundations next to an…

8. Torre do Relógio

1.44 MILES

This little clock tower, topped with a stork’s nest and overlooking the Rio Guadiana, is northeast of Largo Luís de Camões. Alongside it is a municipal…