Portugal Virtual


Portugal > Tourism > Alentejo > Lodging Alentejo > Moura

The name of Moura (Moorish woman or girl) is born from a mixture of legend and history. Salúquia, daughter of the region´s Moorish governor, was waiting for the arrival of her lover when his sequit was attacked and he was killed by the Portuguese, who then used the Arabs´ clothes to trick Salúquia into ordering the drawbridge to be lowered. She is said to have committed suicide, throwing herself from the castle tower, both by grief for her bridegroom´s death and guilt for the enemy´s victory.
The Arab influence is still visible at this peaceful town, surrounded by oaks and olive trees, particularly in the narrow streets and low whitewashed houses, with their peculiar chimneys, of the Moorish quarter
Little is left of the 13th-century castle (destroyed by Spanish troops in 1709), but the church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo, where the first Carmelite convent

Map of Moura Region

of Portugal was founded, keeps its cloister of Gothic and Renaissance influence and exhibits beautiful 18th-century frescoes on the ceiling of the main chapel. Nature lovers will enjoy the beauty of the banks of the river Guadiana, where typical oar-boats, hexagonal and with flat bottom, are still used.

The local cuisine includes many of the Alentejo specialties, such as "gazpacho" (a bread, tomato and cucumber soup served cold), "ensopado de borrego" (stew of young lamb) or the local "açorda", a kind of bread soup with garlic and coriander served with dried codfish, grilled sardines or horse-mackerel.
Some blacksmith shops at Moura still dedicate themselves to forged iron works, producing artistically carved doors and pratical or decoration objects, such as picture-frames and candlesticks.

Alqueva Dam
Santo Aleixo


Romans and arabs left countless marks of their presence in Alentejo for many centuries. Castelo de Moura is another memory of muslim times, when it was built. From those times, there are still some towers, including Torre de Taipa. In the 14th century, the castle was rebuilt by order of king Dinis, and Torre de Menagem (Watchtower) was then added. Later, there were other modifications, namely in the time of king Manuel. Inside, there are still vestiges of the old Convento de Nossa Senhora da Assunção (Our Lady Convent), at the place where the town´s first mother church was built.
St. Peter's Church
The Igreja de São Pedro, from the 17th century, deserves to be mentioned for its collection of decorated tiles of rare beauty and value. On the simple white-washed facade, the small but intricately carved doorway is well worth admiring.
St. Francis Church
The Igreja de São Francisco was started to build in the middle of the 16th century by king João III, but was only concluded much later. To the right of the main chapel, the Capela da Vieira, entirely sculpted in white marble, greatly enhances the interior decoration.


Mother Church
It was thanks to king Manuel I that what is now the Igreja Matriz (of St. John the Baptist) was erected in the middle of the 16th century. Cristóvão de Almeida was the architect chosen to build the church, rectangular and with a simple facade, where the portal decorated with plaited columns and typical Manueline motifs, surmounted by an eye-window, stands out. Attached to the main building, the tower-bell raises above it. The marble pulpit is remarkable and one of the factors that led to the church being declared a National Monument.
Moorish Quarter and Arab Museum
Integrated in the town´s historical center, the Mouraria is one of the biggest and best preserved of Southern Portugal, a live witness of the Muslim rule over the region before the Christian re conquest. The quarter is formed by three streets and an alley, where the whitewashed houses gleam and the Arab characteristics are extremely marked. It is here that the Museum Árabe stands, where a collection of ceramics and tombstones that illustrate the Arab habits and culture can be admired.

Moura Moorish Quarter

Carmo Church
It was originally part of the first Carmelite Convent of all the Iberian Peninsula. It was from here that the monks who founded the Convento do Carmo, in Lisbon, departed. One can still admire in some of the chapels the Gothic style adopted in the original building, but it was altered over the ages and later influenced by the Renaissance. Nossa Senhora do Carmo is the patron saint of Moura since the 13th century; the festivities dedicated to Our Lady always start on the first day of October, and this period is chosen by many people to visit and get to know the town.

Nossa Senhora do Carmo Church

Prehistoric and Roman vestiges
If at the heart of Moura the monuments reflect, essentially, the presence of Arabs and Christians, in the environs you can find witnesses of inhabitants yet more remote. The Cromlech of Negrita is a significant Megalithic monument, and at Castro da Azougada the Iron Age left its marks. In the same county it is worth admiring the rupestral engravings at the zone where the Alqueva dam is.
Watch Towers
By its geographic situation, Moura, along with Aroche and Encinasola (Spain), are part of a region called Contenda, that has been a communal space of the border populations for several centuries. When Portugal and Castille decided to mark a frontier, there was a period of successive fights for this area, that both countries considered to be theirs. A Atalaia de Cabeça Magra, a watchtower of the 15th century, was built near the city, and it´s the only survivor of the four that monitored Castille. Difficult to reach, all of them were built in strategically high places, permanently occupied by soldiers that immediately warned against any enemy attack.

Vale de Moura

Including the regions of Moura, Aroche and Encinasola (Spain), Contenda spreads over mountains and plains. A natural reserve of great environmental quality, it favours the growth of the local flora and fauna, namely mammals, amphibia, reptiles and birds, all living on a perfect balance. It´s one of the few areas in Portugal where one can still find species like deer.

Serra Adiça
Portugal > Tourism > Alentejo > Lodging Alentejo > Moura
Portugal Virtual