Jo’s Monday walk: Mertola

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In a week or so of very mixed weather, we drove north from the Algarve in radiant sunshine. I was certain that luck would desert us as we crossed the border into the Alentejo. For a little while hazy clouds veiled the sun, but then Mertola was displayed in all her glory.

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If ever you want to step back into Portugal’s Moorish past, this is a fine place to do it.  I don’t intend to do a lot of talking, partly because I don’t have the time, but also because these cobbled streets cast their own magic.  All you really need to do is follow.

Your first sight of the town, as you cross the bridge over Ribeira de Oeiras, is the castelo perched high above you.  It’s enough to whet your appetite.  There is parking on Estrada de Circunvalacao and from there Alves Redol leads quietly upwards, until you reach the viewing point in the photo above.  Below, tables are laid at a riverside restaurant and the Guadiana squirms away into the distance.

On Largo Vasco da Gama, the blue and white of ‘Casa Guadiana’ is tucked into a corner where you melt in summer.  Needing to stretch our legs first, we pass by the tiny Mercado and the Tourist Information centre. (where you can acquire a town map)  A remarkable walled street invites you to follow it’s contours.  Could you decline?

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The doors, balconies and mysterious chimneys captivate.  Each one a story in itself.  I stop to watch a lady shaking and pegging out a tablecloth. And then there’s the beautiful clock tower, Torre do Relogio.  Alluring, isn’t it?

Rua Combatentes da Grande Guerra follows the river.  Just another clue to the turbulent history reenacted here, in this serene and peaceful setting.

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I’ve passed by the Camara Municipal, with its stylish red balconies.  Red and ochre compliment the white so well, the shabby blending well with the chique.  Turning up Rua Dr. Antonio Jose de Almeida, I am but following my nose, not sure where to look next.

The decision is made for me when I spot this playful graffiti on a peeling wall.  Isn’t it beautiful?  And on the other side of the narrow street, an elegant vermilion door, with a single flower tucked into the window.  Never forget to look up too!  Overhead, ornate drain pipes open mouths wide.

Intent on the lovely distractions, almost without realising it you’ve climbed up to the castle walls and are looking down on the Oeiras tributary of the River Guadiana.  Time to inject a little history as we approach the castelo and the lovely Igreja Matriz.  The Mother Church began life back in the 8th century as a mosque.  In 1238, Christian knights conquered the town, led by Santiago ‘Mata Mouros’.(the Moor killer)  The Koran was replaced by the Bible, and the mosque converted to Nossa Senhora da Assuncao.  A keep was added to the castle, but the church retains its ‘mihrab’ (prayer niche) to this day.

New pathways and landscaped gardens have been added since I was here last, and a huge project is ongoing to excavate the ruins of the town and elaborate mosaics.  In May every odd year a Moorish festival takes place in Mertola.  I must ensure to attend in 2017 to inspect progress.

I peered with interest at the ruins and promised myself to find the site online when I got home.  Here it is.  For us it was time to head back down, past Igreja Matriz, and search out somewhere to relax.  Ever alert, my other half had noted a cafe at the back of the small Mercado.  ‘Cafetaria Manu’ has a tiny terrace overlooking the Guadiana, and you can buy cake or a simple sandwich to accompany an excellent glass of wine.

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From the eastern end of the Algarve, Mertola is easily reached on the virtually traffic free IC27, which leads north from Castro Marim. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, and hope that you did too.

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This is a scheduled post and I won’t actually be home until Thursday, so I apologise if my responses are a little scanty at first.  I didn’t want to leave the gap between walks for too long, and needed to write this while it was fresh in my memory.  Thank you all for your lovely company and support. I only have a few shares this week but I’m hoping you’ve been saving them for my return.

As usual, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo above.

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I’m starting with a lovely man in Hamburg and an unusual look at life – thanks, Tobias!

U3: Landungsbrucken- St. Pauli

A head for heights will help but is not essential to accompany Anabel, but money could be!

Toronto: an island walk

And Jackie tells me that Chinatown is great for food :

Spadina St

Geoff’s rambling again!  I think we should humour him, don’t you?

K is for Kensington and Khelsea #atozchallenge

This next is a bike ride so I’m afraid you’ll have to jog to keep up with Kathrin!

My weekly ramble

Hope this finds you happy and well.  I’ll be back in person soon.  Roving temporarily suspended….

182 comments

  1. So lovely to join you in another walk Jo ! The mediterranean colours are just perfect for a fab Friday feeling. I love the detail of the lady putting out the tablecloth to dry in the sun. I haven’t used a table cloth at home for so long and it reminds how beautiful it makes a meal look😉 The white walls shine out. Thank you.

  2. Such beautiful skies and a totally enchanting place! Thank you for opening my eyes to this and taking me for a vigorous walk! Great shots and beautiful houses and cobbled stones…Portugal, here i come!

  3. There’s something about whitewashed walls in the sun, set amid blue skies and a bit of water, that just instantly make me feel I’m on vacation! Thanks for taking me along, especially when it just won’t warm up here in the U.S.!

    1. It won’t? Sorry to hear that! Our weather is all over the place. Surprisingly mild in my bit of the UK but I gather the Algarve has just had 10 days of rain. Glorious in Poland but with thunderstorms too. I’ll take whatever they throw at me. 🙂 Thanks for the company!

  4. Lovely photos of a lovely town. I was there with visiting in-laws the same week but didn’t get such blue skies – soaked to the skin! Fantastically cheap lunch of soup and chicken pies in a cafe down the high street though.

    1. I gather from a neighbour that the last 10 days have been pretty poor for weather in the Algarve. Sometimes luck is with me. 🙂 Many thanks for your comments.

  5. All that white against the blue is magnificent and the bits of red and yellow thrown in are icing on the cake. And what is not to love about the little bits of graffiti? Good to see you again Jo!

    1. Hello, Sweetheart 🙂 You are managing to find Internet connections ok. Is the Captain back to his normal self and all smooth sailing?
      I really love this place, Lisa, and it’s a pleasure coming back to the post. Thanks for spending time with me. 🙂

      1. I can see why you love that place. It is glorious.

        We have connection as we ended up pulling into a marina in Mooloolaba to have our freezer compressor repaired … The unexpected joys of the sailing life. The Captain is doing really well and happy to be back underway. Thank you for asking

    1. In Spring quite a lot of painting goes on around our estate, Denzil. You’ve reminded me how often it needs doing. 🙂 Just on my way out so I’ll come and walk with you a bit later. Happy weekend!

  6. Wow, beautiful blue skies and white walls. The first picture blew me away and the rest brought me back. The place is so fascinating! Great shots, Jo!🙂

  7. Jo, that first shot of the bridge is excellent. It looks like you visited on the perfect weather day for blue sky and whitewashed walls. I’m a sucker for this architectural style and can never get enough photos of the narrow streets lined with whitewashed walls and colorful doors. BTW, you may have noticed that things have been quiet at Gallivance lately. Terri blew here knee out and had to have a total knee replacement surgery recently, so as you can imagine, her recovery and care have kept us both pretty busy. She’s progressing well, but it’s slow going. We haven’t forgotten about our friends and look forward to things getting back to normal. In the meantime, thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

    1. Hi James 🙂 I do appreciate your visit, especially in the circumstances. I did wonder but I’ve been out of the loop with family visits and thought I must have missed something. Please give Terri my very best wishes and I hope she’s fully mobile again soon. 🙂

    1. Good grief, Sue- steady on! 🙂 🙂 I’ll have to sort myself out and write a walk post soon at this rate. 🙂 Can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with. Thank you very much!

  8. You were right, this is a lovely place! I still don’t know where I’m going this summer, and this post makes me think about maybe Portugal?!! I could take the same walk…

      1. Yeah…if I go, I will be requesting some travel info!! I can’t believe I’ve never been to Portugal??? What is up with that?

  9. Oh my, this was an amazing walk and I didn’t mind the climb at all. Fantastic photos, all of them. Love the contrast of the stark white of the buildings against the vivid blue sky. If only all graffiti could be as delightful as what you captured. I hope you have those blue skies for your last few days in Poland.

  10. The Moorish ambiance reminds me of my day trip to Sintra. Mertola looks much more peaceful and authentic. Your blog is a great resource for the off-the-beaten path places in Portugal.

  11. I’m even more deeply admiring of your photos now that I know you never crop. That first shot is a mistresspiece of composition – and not alone. You’ve captured the stunning contrast between stonework and whitewash in a number of photos: that graffiti is wonderful, as is the deep maroon door with the flower, offset by the orangey-yellow and white wall; and the window of lamps; and the roofline of Igreja Matriz. Then there’s your turn of phrase: “the Guadiana squirms away into the distance.” Altogether a wonderful post.

    I can’t wait to see what you do with Piotrkowska – I’m presuming you’ll blog it?

    1. How else am I going to show the world how lovely you are? Mertola is a very easy place to portray in all it’s glory. Piotrakowa will be more of a challenge. Will hop over to yours for some inspiration. Today was glorious in Krakow. One to go and I have something in mind. Hugs darlin xxx

      1. With a bit of luck I’ll post mine tomorrow, leaving out dilapidation in your honour – and a heap of other stuff because it’s the longest photo-post ever, I think. (However, there’ll be a separate dilapidation post!) I’ve included a photo of you. Is that OK? Our selfie was awful.

        Enjoy your last day, and enjoy going home. A lazy day for me today: both twins home with a cold and other babcia, so I’ll probably spend the day with them tomorrow. Hugs – the real ones were very nice.

      2. I’m over 900 with today’s excitement. I may never need to go anywhere ever again at this rate. Of course you can-I wasn’t going to ask your permission. Looking forward to more hugs in person xxx

      3. It’s taken me ages to sort Łódź 1. I need to be brutal choosing to start with. Creating collages is a bit time consuming too, but it lets me sneak more photos in.

  12. Charming Place and wonderful photos. To me the name is easy to pronounce, because Mértola, is Finnish word. We have a ffurniture store called Mertola in Jyväskylä.🙂

      1. I know! I feel very blessed with all the places I could go to and still can go. Looking forward to your Monday walks and my rambles😉 Enjoy Portugal!

    1. You’re welcome Pauline. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting it in photos. Thursday so I have another day or two of wandering in Krakow. Love to you and Jack xx

  13. Another lovely walk, Jo – I really enjoyed reading about it! Looking forward to reading about your trip to Poland. I hope your travels are going well!

  14. I just sowed my friend these fabulous photos, and she said ‘Are you sure you want to got to Barcelona?’ Well, I do but I want to go back to Portugal again too!

      1. Three days there isn’t long enough, I could stay for months. Poland is growing on me honey, but it won’t be this year sadly, I need more money and more time!

      2. We did 5 I think, or maybe 6, but though there are other things to see I don’t think I’d go back. I would have loved to get to Montserrat or out to the Dali place along the coast but not so much the city itself, lovely as it was.

      3. Yes I’d like to go to Monserrat and Tarragona if there’s time. I was spellbound in Barcelona, as I was in Tavira in a different way. I’m going to be wealthy in my next life and spend it travelling everywhere🙂🙂🙂 xx

  15. So many lovely doors and ornate windows and delightful decay and gorgeous graffiti and… wow. I am running out of breath and superlatives. Now tell me, just WHAT did you do with all the people? Not a soul to be seen. I imagine this was a scene of some carnage when those knights arrived though.

  16. Oh look at all that beautiful blue sky. Shows off the white buildings as if they are romantic partners. Enjoy the rest of yoru time away Jo. No need to respond to my comment.

    1. What? Would I be so rude Sue? Walked my legs off in Krakow today so replying to comments is all I’m good for. Seems like forever since I was in Portugal xx

  17. A magical walk for me today – may have had a gory past, but the present pristine white buildings against the blue sky and steep land. Gorgeous Jo!

  18. Great to be reading your Monday Walks again Jo! Love all those white buildings. I’ve only been to Lisbon and need to explore the rest of this beautiful country!

  19. This is beautiful, Jo. I adore Portugal and we have family up north near Oporto. We are still humming and aaaghing about moving continent before they issue our pension books. 🙂

      1. Yes, the weather aspect is definitely part of the reason. But we shall see.
        There is no reason we could not move farther south and commute.

  20. What a fabulous walk, Jo! It’s such a gorgeous town, and I love its Moorish origins and history. How I would love to go back to Portugal! So much shabby chicness all around, and such wonderful details everywhere. And you had a perfect dappled sky to top it off. I hope you’re enjoying your travels!🙂

  21. It sure is very beautiful and alluring there, Jo. I can see why you were attracted by the cute graffiti. I like how you describe that certain things lead you towards deciding which way to turn and go. I always think it is intuition, but more often than not, it is some small detail that makes us decide to turn left or right. Now, tell me, which tea rooms do you guys prefer: the ones in England or the ones in the Algarve?🙂

  22. The moorish history is so interesting and (even though you weren’t going to say much😊) well told. It also looks a peaceful place or perhaps it was before tourist season.

    1. I think I might have confused my replies Carol. Did I call you Geoff? It’s not so easy on my phone and I’m still in Poland. Apologies if so. It’s really hot in Summer and always peaceful in my experience xx

  23. I have an idea for making money, open a store and white masonry/ wall brickwork paint, a little gold maybe.. another nice walk Jo, even though my arms are aching with the cans of paint…

  24. welcome back and great walk to bring us on – the opening shot is my fav of them all – really cool how the rooflines sit below the rail – then the trees – and then the walk way with the stone – the entire composition still has me lurking – hmmmm

  25. Breathtaking country, adorable houses, historical streets and wonderful views. Perfect place to explore. Thank you 😊 , Jo, for bringing me there!

  26. What a scenic and peaceful walk at Mertola. Lots of historical architecture to admire, and you did a splendid job of capturing them from different angles. Looks like a bit place to roam. Castle and church look beautiful side by side🙂

      1. Do you find that part of the pleasure of writing posts is revisiting your travel photos? I really enjoy going back through them when selecting some to add to a post. Virtual travel is almost as good as the real thing.

  27. I love Mertola and you have captured it beautifully in this post. Oh I so wish I could drive there today and wander around! Stunning town, fabulous post as always Jo.

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