Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Menhir Da Meada

Ten miles north of Castle do Vide is the largest menhir in Iberia, the Menhir da Meada, aka the Menhir da Viagra. Something we had to see.
One-lane but paved roads, and the signage was good

Back out into the megalith-strewn wonderland of Alentaje

Where they use mini-menhirs for fence posts!

And there it is; in a national park, so there is ease of access, a car park, picnic
tables, poubelles...

Even a marker and interpretive signage

To wit...

With me, for scale; it's a little more than 7m; only recently
discovered; and lovingly re-erected

In context

The putative glans bit, in case you're interested

The pavement does not go ever on from here

Marvao: The Town

We have seen our share of hill towns, and I think Marvao may well have been the best. It is interesting, clean, amply explained in signage, not over-run by tourists (just indies) nor trinket shoppes. There are a few cafes and restaurants, a few B&Bs or boutique hotels, but mostly just a town that has the amenities and excels in self-regard. Not a lot of traffic, either, although what there is is well-managed and mostly kept outside the walls.
Several old gates lead into the town

Cruel and unusual punishments occurred here;
executions without the walls

Bridge to property across the alley

Street scene

Bridge to one's rooftop garden across the alley

Portuguese version of a vespasian

Manueline window 

Nice views

Town from the castle

Beautifully manicured public park; note the cork tree has been

View of castle from garden

Church converted to municipal museum

Everything's up to date...

A self-regarding place: historical plaques all over

A Manueline door one one of the very few
disused buildings

Futbol field at the school

Parque infantil

Inside the main church

Beautiful private and public landscaping all over

Nice views

A little topiary lining the street

Back door

Bug's-eye view of wildflowers

Another great visit!

Marvao: The Castle

We drove on to Marvao, a castle/fortified hill town that dates from Moorish times. The fortress was enlarged and strengthened as it changed hands and through the centuries. Being just a few miles from Spain, its main purpose in later centuries was defense against the far larger and more powerful nation to the east. The hill-side aire at Marvao was full, so we spent the night in a quiet lay-by a kilometer or so down the hill.
Marvao, the castle on the left, the town on the right, mostly; all on a lofty crag

The castle part

Approaching the castle

En foot

A double-curtained affair

Steps down to cistern, said to be six months' worth

Approaching inner castle, keep

Nice little all-weather look-out booths all around

Looking back to the town, which is entirely within the outer curtain

Nice views

Castle do Vide, 5-6 miles away

Spain across the mountains

Gunner's view

Dam and reservoir, one of many in interior Portugal

Keep and curtains

The whole fortress was covered in earwigs, dead and alive, reminding me a bit
of Nemrut Doghi and its hordes of lady bugs

Impressive castle, very much intact, very well signed