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25 Secret European Villages

Marvao, Portugal

Rui Cunha

Portugal: Marvão

There are dramatic mountainside forts, and then there is Marvão, the king of them all. Located in the southeastern Alentejo region of Portugal, this town is centered around a Moorish castle that was Christianized in the 13th century. The stone complex, now laid open to the elements in a kind of tumbledown glory, sits atop a rocky hill, dominating the red-tile-roofed houses and convents that spill out onto curving streets to the east.

Population: 159

How to Get There: By car from Lisbon.

Where to Stay: Great Value Pousada Santa Maria (doubles from $123), a simple 31-room hotel and restaurant constructed from a foundry and two 13th-century houses.

Where to Eat: Fill up on goat casserole at the Varanda do Alentejo lunch counter (lunch for two $27).


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