Idanha-a-Velha: The Roman city that disappeared
Centro de Portugal: The Heart of Portugal

Castles of Portugal: Marialva


Marialva (EN102) - The village of Marialva is really two places:  A small village of humble homes, and a long abandoned walled town.  One of only a handful of ghostly walled villages in Portugal, what remains of Marialva is its roofless houses and empty square with its fine pillory.  The place seems haunted, and its history confirms that Marialva was a stage for dramatic happening.  The town predates the Roman invasion, and was later taken by the Visigoths. After the 711 invasion of the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors, the entire area around Marialva was abandoned until conquered by the Portuguese in the 12th century.  But neighbouring Castile also claimed the lands of the Côa River, and only in a 1297 treaty did Portugal gain full title to the area. The castle was rebuilt and expanded, and the town had returned to prosperity.


But, the town’s fortunes were aligned with the powerful Távoras family, whose feud with the powerful dictator, the Marques de Pombal, in the 18th century led to the abandonment of the village. Today the granite walls are ruined, but in good shape overall with a central keep, a few castled towers, and dozens or ruined homes.  The roofless remains of the parish church preside over the town square, with its delicately caped pillory.  Time stopped in Marialva, but the empty ruins are rich in history and memories.


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