Along the Guadiana Valley
With the great river of the south as your guide journey from Castro Marim to Afonso Vicente. Through marshlands, valleys and dams in a landscape in which the River Guadiana appears at each curve. Delight in river beaches, delicious sea lamprey, and the simplicity of cane basketry. Discover the rural architecture as you enter each village, and experience age-old remains from the Neolithic period to the Phoenician, Roman or Arab eras.
This journey begins in Castro Marim and climbs up to Afonso Vicente with the River Guadiana as a backdrop. The urban settlement of Castro Marim contains a wealth of archaeological remains of prehistoric, Phoenician, Roman, Arab and Christian occupation. This medieval town is known for the beauty of its castle and of the walled enclosure (1). The castle lookout point offers an extraordinary view over the River Guadiana, the town, the saltpans and the “serra” uplands. From here you can visit Castro Marim Mother Church (2). In front of Castro Marim you can enjoy the natural beauty of the 2,089hectares of the Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António Marshland Natural Reserve (3).Leave the town on the EN 122 and take a left after you pass through Junqueira joining the 1132 and after about 3km you’ll reach Beliche and the Barragem do Beliche (Dam) (4). Retracing your steps you should then rejoin the EN 122 and follow this until you reach the village of Azinhal where we recommend that you visit the Holy Spirit Mother Church (5) and the Azinhal Cultural Centre (6). The “Women’s Knowledge” museum teaches you of the important role played by women in the development of various activities, namely in the production of bobbin lacework. And there’s still time to taste some of the regional sweets made in the cake shop “A Prova” (7), and some of the local cheese and wine.Continue 3km further along the EN 122 and make a short detour to Almada de Ouro, a small village situated on the banks of the Guadiana. Shortly afterwards the settlement of Alcarias displays very interesting remains of rural architecture (8).
When you take the 1063 you arrive at Foz de Odeleite, where the Ribeira de Odeleite (brook) flows into the River Guadiana, turning the surrounding area into a natural paradise with secluded places and small anchoring sites (9). Continue onto Álamo along the 507 and visit the Álamo Roman dam (10), an age-old infrastructure that indicates the location of an opulent villa located about 100 metres down river.Further on in Guerreiros do Rio, you can visit the Museu do Rio (Museum of the River) (11) where you can learn all about the history of the river and its people and admire the work of craftsmen as they go about making fishing equipment on the banks of the Guadiana.Taking the same road you reach Laranjeiras and Montinho das Laranjeiras. The remains of a Roman villa (12) have been found here, making this a site of great archaeological and tourist value.Continuing a further 3km towards Alcoutim and you reach the Pontal Lookout Point (13), an excellent spot to take in the natural beauty or have a bite to eat.You then arrive in Alcoutim itself, a town with a great view over the River Guadiana and to neighbouring Spain, which was captured from the Moslems in 1240. Alcoutim Castle (14) dates from the 14th century and is a classified building. Inside there is a small archaeological museum with exhibits of the archaeological heritage from the municipality, which acts as a touch wire for a historic journey that began more than 5000 years ago. Next you can visit the Church of Our Lady of the Conception (15) where we recommend a visit to the Sacred Art Museum (16): “Four centuries of scared art in the municipality of Alcoutim”. You should visit the Alcoutim Mother Church of the Saviour (17) with its characteristic weather vane in the shape of a cockerel. You can spend the night in Alcoutim in the Estalagem do Guadiana (Guadiana Inn) or in the Pousada da Juventude (Youth Hostel) and enjoy some of the local cooking.About 1km from Alcoutim, crossing the Ribeira dos Cadavais (brook) via a modern bridge, the ruins of the “old” castle of Alcoutim (18), a Moslem settlement protected by walls and quadrangular towers, rises up on a mound hanging over the river offering moments of great natural beauty. You should try and visit the Barragem de Alcoutim (Dam) and the river beach (19). This is situated on the Ribeira dos Cadavais (brook) and contains a leisure area and a bar, which operates in the summer months.Taking the 507 you reach Cortes Pereiras, a village located on a plain where the ancient customs associated with mining extraction are still visible. If you carry on to Afonso Vicente, then 1.5km northwest you can visit the Menir do Lavajo (menhir) (20), measuring 3.14m in height and dating from the late Neolithic period.Finally you can choose to follow the EN 122 for 32km until you reach Mértola, where you can visit the town museum and see precious evidence of Roman and Islamic presence in the area, or even take the “Through the Northeast Interior” journey which begins in Odeleite.