Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Absolutely Marvao-lous – Portugal 24

Marvao castle and battlements

Marvao castle and battlements

 

It needed something extraordinary to take our minds off our Powerboat friends and Barca de Alva, and Castello de Vida and Marvao certainly did their best.

Castello de Vida locals

Castello de Vida locals

Castello de Vida was a lovely town, with friendly people, beautiful little houses, and an imposing castle, which contained a medieval town within its walls. Wandering the old town, with its meandering walkways and delightful doorways, was pure pleasure.

Miki looking windswept and interesting in Castello de Vida

Miki looking windswept and interesting in Castello de Vida

We wandered around Castello de Vida for hours, stopping for a coffee, for Miki to sketch, drinking in the town and its inhabitants. We parked up for the night somewhat precariously, in a park at the foot of the hill…

Miki sous Boo

Miki sous Boo

Marvao, was similar, though it was built , if it were possible, on a more precipitous peak, and with beautifully kept gardens within the fortress walls. The way the Portuguese keep their history alive by simply continuing to live in it is extraordinary.

Marvao Gardens

Marvao Gardens

 

The Castle had a subterranean Cisterna, still full of water, that used to be their main supply. We descended into the dark via the stone stairway, and came out in a beautiful vaulted space. The natural echo in there was astonishing, and I sang a whole song in the stillness, marvelling at the acoustics. I have a recording of it, and i’ll try to post it on here at some point. We walked the walls of the town and castle in their entirety, discovering such diverse sights as a Scout troup camping out in the Castle grounds, and roads that the living rock seemed to be reclaiming for the mountain.

Marvao Church

Marvao Church

In Spain, generally speaking, an old ruin is an old ruin. You can see the mentality there even today; when a house becomes dilapidated, they simply build a new bit next door and move in there, while the old section crumbles to dust. But the Portuguese continue to give life to their past, and one gets the feeling that its always been this way, and that’s why their history is in such wonderful condition.

The Magic of Marvao's streets

The Magic of Marvao's streets

When you see the sheer number of fortified towns that pepper the border, it becomes clear that at some point in their history, the Portuguese were deeply distrustful of the Spanish, to say the least. But it gives rise to delightful spectacle for the traveller, and we have been constantly amazed by gem after gem on this journey. Two nights spent in this area were richly rewarding.

Miki loves Medieval Phone Boxes...

Miki loves Medieval Phone Boxes...

As we prepared to head in a generally homeward direction, we decided to visit an archaeological site called Ammaia. It was an important tone here in Roman times, and recent excavations have uncovered a surprising amount, including the imposing South Gate and the Forum, as well as hundreds of artifacts. Indeed, archaeologists were working on a dig even as we visited.

 

One artifact that caught our eye was an extremely well-preserved oil-lamp. After you’d gazed at it for awhile, you slowly realised exactly what the beautiful artwork on it is depicting…naughty Romans!

It’s a wonder they had time to conquer anywhere, the amount of time they seemed to spend in the sack….

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum....

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum....

When you gaze into the distance and see the ancient fort of Marvao atop the ridge built in the thirteenth century, its quite incredible to realise that the city ruins you are standing in pre-date it by fifteen hundred years.

That’s before Richard the Lionheart, before Jesus, bloody hell, it’s probably before Keith Richards.

Miki Outside the Archaeological centre at Ammaia

Miki Outside the Archaeological centre at Ammaia

Kev Moore

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July 23, 2008 - Posted by | Art, culture, humor, life, travel, writing | , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. Oh God, I hate it when Kevin shows all these photos from me! Life was simpler before as he hadn’t any camera… I think I must hide it!

    Comment by Miki | July 23, 2008

  2. ALL these photos were fantastic in this post! And I especially liked that one of you looking “windswept!”

    Madame Monet

    Comment by wpm1955 | July 27, 2008

  3. Thanks for your nice comments, MM. She looks lovely windswept, doesn’t she? 😉

    Comment by kevmoore | July 27, 2008


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