This is a tour outside the Historic Centre of Mertola to explore various museums and places of interest, in Alentejo, Portugal.
WHAT YOU WILL SEE ON THE TOUR OUTSIDE THE HISTORIC CENTRE
A Tour Outside Mertola Historic Centre, where you will find important museums and interesting places outside the “Vila Velha” that are worth a visit, as well as appreciate the surrounding traditional architecture.
- Walking time (estimated): 1.5 hours (20 minutes linear path)
- Course Length (estimated): 1 km
- Cost (estimated): Admission to the museum centers identified here is free
- The usual opening hours of the museum nucleus are from 9:15 am to 12:30 pm and from 2:00 pm to 5:15 pm, closing on Mondays.
TOUR Map Outside the Historic CentrE of MErtola, Portugal
The numbers (#) on the Map and Text identify places to visit:
TOUR OUTSIDE OF MERTOLA HISTORIC CENTRE
In this tour you will get to know other museums and places of interest, such as the Paleocristã Basilica, Marques Duque Cine-Theater and Mértola Pier (next to the Guadiana River).
=> The tour outside Mértola historic centre starts at Largo Vasco da Gama. Starts next to a supermarket, up Rua 25 de Abril (name not marked on the walls).
Enjoy the beautiful and colorful tree decoration. Each year artisans from all Mértola Municipality donate new handmade crochet art works.
=> You will find on the left side, at 23 and 25, some typical houses of the village with bungavilias and cacti and on the right side, at 22, the House of Arts Mário Elias, which exhibits various works of art, especially painting.
=> At the top of Rua 25 de Abril, after passing the Mértola Kindergarten, you arrive at Largo do Rossio do Carmo, in front of a large building where you can visit the ruins of the Paleocristã Basilica.
(1) In Largo do Rossio do Carmo, the museum nucleus of the Paleocristã Basilica is located on the lower floor of a Primary School, which occupies the upper floors. The Paleocristan Basilica was built by the Visigoths in the 5th century on a Roman necropolis. This Basilica was intended for the worship of the Christian population and, because of its great importance, had a choir and a singing school. The building is large, about 500 m2 (33 meters long by 18 meters wide), has 3 naves separated by columns and 2 opposing apses (semi-circular enclosure where the main altar is). Note the columns, capitals, as well as various objects such as buckles, earrings, teardrops, lamps and burial tombstones (about 60 paleochristian and one Jewish tombstones). Rossio do Carmo is the area where the basilica is located, served as the Roman, Paleo-Christian and Arabic (maqbara) necropolis.
=> Turn back a little in Largo do Rossio do Carmo and turn left before Mértola Kindergarten and down the sidewalk of Travessa Dr. Serrão Martins (not marked on the wall), following the directions “Hotel Museu” and “Beira Rio”.
=> When you reach the main street of Mértola (Rua Dr. Serrão Martins), turn left, rounding the Cooperativa Agrícola de Mértola, and you will see in the background the Marques Duque Cine-Theater.
Marques Duque Cine-Theater
(2) The Marques Duque Cine-Theater has a beautiful white and blue façade with a neo-Moorish aesthetic. This building is used as a music, cinema and theater venue, as well as a conference space. In the 5th and 6th centuries there was a paleochristian temple here. In the 17th century, was a hermitage of Santo António dos Pescadores, due to the importance of fishing activity on the Guadiana River. Also, in 1910 the place was transformed into a school canteen, named after primary teacher Marques Duque. In 1917 the cine-theater was built (and refurbished in 2005), maintaining since then the facade. On this date, the archaeological excavations carried out discovered a paleochristian cemetery, with several graves from the 5th to 7th centuries, here in Mertola (Portugal).
=> Near the Cine-Theater you have a square with benches, which is an excellent viewpoint over the Guadiana River. You’re in ‘Arrabalde Ribeirinho’.
=> After go down Rua Dr. Afonso Costa, passing by the traditional bakery “Flôr do Guadiana” and arrive at the Hotel Museum. Enter the hotel reception and ask to visit the museum in the basement.
Arrabalde Ribeirinho / Hotel-Museum
(3) Next to the Guadiana River, there was the ‘Arrabalde Ribeirinho’ (a quarter outside the city walls), with well-defined streets and with a pipe and sewage systems. At the time of the construction of the Hotel-Museum was discovered in 2005 a port Almohad quarter (12th century), whose site had already been occupied by the Romans in the 3rd to 5th centuries. From the Arab quarter you can see a street and three dwellings.
One of the houses, which you can visit on the lower floor of the Museum Hotel, has the peculiarity of having been the home of a Christian family, at a time of Islamic occupation of the region. There you can see crosses engraved in the stone that existed above the door of the main hall. The house, which used stucco and mortar flooring, had a central interior courtyard, main hall, alcove, kitchen, storage room, latrine, and two detritus pits outside. The museum next to the ruins displays interesting objects collected in the excavations, such as carpenter’s compass (perhaps associated with boat building), scissors, earrings, buckles, ceramic pieces (pitchers, jars and pots) and weapons (bow and arrowheads).
=> Continue down Rua Dr. Afonso Costa and reach Cais de Mértola, next to the Guadiana River.
(4) It was at the Mertola Pier that the boats carrying people and agricultural products, ores and others from or to the interior of the Alentejo (Portugal), along the Guadiana River, were moored. Here there were also barges that, for centuries, crossed the river with people and goods to ‘Além-Rio”, a population cluster on the other side of the river bank. The boats lost their importance after the construction in 1961 of the Guadiana River Bridge in Mértola.
Currently at Mertola Pier, you can find small local boats (fishermen and tourism) and boats coming from the Algarve that cross the Guadiana River from Vila Real de Santo António. The caravans of local and foreign tourists also stop at the pier.
Near the pier there is a picnic park by the river and there is a Riverside pedestrian walkway, which goes to the Guadiana Bridge, further north.
=> Return, going up Rua Dr. Afonso Costa to the Cine-Theater and then turn left to Rua Dr. Serrão Martins.
=> Further up on Rua Dr. Serrão Martins, on the left hand side (and also at the top) of the Mértola Club building you have a beautiful viewpoint the Guadiana River. Then continue to Largo Vasco da Gama.
=> There is a shortcut on the way from Cais de Mértola, if you have more energy you can go up the staircase on your left, before the Hotel-Museum, which takes you to Largo Vasco da Gama.
=> Follow Rua Alves Redol to see some old buildings. Make a small detour, turning right on the first street to visit in number 5 the shop “Artesanato Molduras”, which sells traditional handicrafts from Alentejo and Arab countries.
=> Return to Rua Alves Redol, seeing at 25 the beautiful post office building.
(5) The Post Office building in use has an interesting architecture, with window shutters and huge swallow nests (in spring you’ll a lot of excitement!). This building in Mértola was part of the post office expansion plan in Portugal that took place in the mid-twentieth century.
=> Finally, you have reached the end of the tour outside the historic center of Mertola, in Alentejo, Portugal.
Discover the historic centre of this amazing village on the Self-Guided walking tour in Mértola, Alentejo.
Tourist Office: Telephone 286810109 or www.cm-mertola.pt
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