The town where time stand still

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We get to a little old town located right at a river giving a bit of water to this dry part of Portugal. The river continues to the ocean so this little town has actually attracted people right back to the Phoenicians and Carthaginians before the Romans made it here. The last foreign nation to hold the area was the Moors from North Africa. And they are actually the ones who have made the most lasting impression on the town. Not much seems to have changed since the Moors were and the old town has a North African feel about it.

The main sights from the time of the Moors are an old church which were originally build like a mosque but converted after the Portuguese retook the town. And on the very top of the hill there is a little castle dominating the views of the river and the area around the town. You can visit the castle and quite a large number of different museums for such a small town. Unfortunately we are visiting the town late on a Sunday and staying overnight – which is actually the worst time to visit the city since all the museums were closed when we arrive and they will also be closed on the Monday. So we have to settle with a look at the city from the outside.

We stay down at the river in a hotel called the Hotel Museo which doubles as a small museum with a little Roman ruin in the basement. So this is the only museum we get to visit since the reception did turn on the light for us. After a quick look at the small museum we head outside the museum for the walk to the old town which is located up on the top of the hill. It is a lot of steps up to make it to the old town where we wonder the narrow streets to have a look at the old mosque/church and the fortress at the top of the hill. There is a pretty good view from up here. We head back down to the rest of the old town wondering around the narrow streets – which do allow some traffic – though I am not sure how comfortable I would be driving around some of the corners which look a little tight.

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The most impressive houses are centered around a little square down at the edge of town overlooking the river. This is where the regional offices are located and there is one very long house which is very narrow as well – looking really strange the proportions just seems off. We finish the tour around the old town and head back to the hotel for a drink before dinner.


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