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25 Secret European Villages

Marvao, Portugal

Rui Cunha

Marvão, Portugal

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.

How to Get There: By car from Lisbon.

Where to Stay: Pousada Santa Maria (doubles from $102), a simple 31-room hotel and restaurant constructed from a foundry and two 13th-century houses.

Where to Eat: Fill up on goat soup at the Varanda do Alentejo lunch counter.

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