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Old Sep 19th 2017, 10:00 am   #1
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Question Elvas, Beja, Serpa, Mertola, Silves

I hope to come to Portugal for a few weeks later in the year, and if I do I'd like to see these places. I wonder if anyone knows them and whether they think there's anything I should know about them - e.g. advice on what to see, where to sleep, what to avoid, what to drink...

In Elvas, I'll be particularly interested in anything / anywhere to do with the Peninsular Wars and just after (including George Borrow's visit), and in Silves anything to do with Hispano-Islamic poetry.
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Old Sep 19th 2017, 10:04 am   #2
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Default Re: Elvas, Beja, Serpa, Mertola, Silves

It is certainly worth visiting both the castle in Silves and the museum with many artefacts from its Moorish history.
The museum is located in one if the original cisternas that provided water to the inhabitants of the walled Moorish city.
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Old Sep 19th 2017, 10:21 am   #3
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Default Re: Elvas, Beja, Serpa, Mertola, Silves

This site may be interesting for you and the organiser is something of an expert on the peninsular wars as well as being a font of knowledge on Algarve history ...

Algarve History Association
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Old Sep 19th 2017, 4:48 pm   #4
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Default Re: Elvas, Beja, Serpa, Mertola, Silves

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Originally Posted by Sancho View Post
I hope to come to Portugal for a few weeks later in the year, and if I do I'd like to see these places. I wonder if anyone knows them and whether they think there's anything I should know about them - e.g. advice on what to see, where to sleep, what to avoid, what to drink...

In Elvas, I'll be particularly interested in anything / anywhere to do with the Peninsular Wars and just after (including George Borrow's visit), and in Silves anything to do with Hispano-Islamic poetry.
All places well worth a visit..Mertola being a gem.

Silves of course was sacked by Richard the Lionheart, and most of the city was destroyed, at the request of the Portuguese catholic church.during the crusades.

You might be interested in reading an intriguing book written by one of the Algarves' prominent ex-pats Peter Daughtrey ' Atlantis and the Silver city' It puts forward a compelling argument that Silves was the capital of Atlantis. A city described by Plato as 'shining and covered in silver.' Silves of course means silver. Wether one believe's it or not . The book represents 20 yrs of meticulous research... It convinced me. Enjoy your trip
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Old Sep 19th 2017, 7:48 pm   #5
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Default Re: Elvas, Beja, Serpa, Mertola, Silves

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Originally Posted by Sancho View Post
I hope to come to Portugal for a few weeks later in the year, and if I do I'd like to see these places. I wonder if anyone knows them and whether they think there's anything I should know about them - e.g. advice on what to see, where to sleep, what to avoid, what to drink...

In Elvas, I'll be particularly interested in anything / anywhere to do with the Peninsular Wars and just after (including George Borrow's visit), and in Silves anything to do with Hispano-Islamic poetry.
You might like to add Moura to your circuit, as you go through the Alentejo, not at the same level as Beja and Serpa but still lovely to visit the old part. Hotel da Moura worth staying in.
Alentejo wines generally excellent - some wonderful reds and whites, you will pass loads of vineyards, some of the larger ones offer a tour. CVRA
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Old Sep 20th 2017, 12:31 am   #6
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Default Re: Elvas, Beja, Serpa, Mertola, Silves

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Originally Posted by Loafing Along View Post
You might like to add Moura to your circuit, as you go through the Alentejo, not at the same level as Beja and Serpa but still lovely to visit the old part. Hotel da Moura worth staying in.
Alentejo wines generally excellent - some wonderful reds and whites, you will pass loads of vineyards, some of the larger ones offer a tour. CVRA
I second the Hotel da Moura - and at the top of the square, through an archway, there was a little restaurant. Their "Bife a Inglesa" was divine - even after a 45-degree day!

Look at Marvão and Castelo de Vide too..... Marvão has to be experienced and Castelo de Vide has a rare old Judiaria as well as being the birthplace (and final resting place) of Salgueiro Maia, hero of the Carnation Revolution. I often think of his comment to the troops on the eve of 25 April - "There are three kinds of states: capitalist states, socialist states, and the state we're in", true then, true now!
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Old Sep 20th 2017, 8:18 am   #7
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Default Re: Elvas, Beja, Serpa, Mertola, Silves

Just up from Mertola, Minas de Sao Domingos is worth a visit.
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Old Sep 20th 2017, 10:11 am   #8
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Default Re: Elvas, Beja, Serpa, Mertola, Silves

Not forgetting Monsaraz. Let's face it, there are some wonderful gems in Portugal.
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Old Sep 20th 2017, 1:59 pm   #9
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Default Re: Elvas, Beja, Serpa, Mertola, Silves

Thanks very much indeed for all the answers and suggestions. What an amazingly helpful lot you are.

I knew about people like Ibn ‘Ammar and al-Mu’tadid, writing about lovely Christian girls in the balconied castle, but nothing else about Silves. Imagining Coeur de Lion sacking it will make it even more interesting.

I'll get in touch with the Algarve History Association. I seem to be interested in everything they're interested in, including Iran.

I'd already made a note about seeing the Minas de Sao Domingos if possible. Of the other places you suggest, Moura sounds the most likely. It's more or less on the route in any case. The others - Castelo de Vide, Marvão, Monsaraz... - look as if they'd require a day or so's detour. I mean to travel by local bus mainly, or by train.

You're right. The Hotel de Moura looks the sort of place I like.

Here are a couple of things about George Borrow's travels in Portugal. It may be possible to locate the tower he visited between Estremoz and Elvas, and perhaps even some of the inns he stayed in.

This

This

I also hope to see the public 'fountain' where he sat in Elvas, and the British military cemetery there (recently opened or visited or something by the Duchess of Wellington, I think).

William Beckford's good on a lot of things and places, but not on Portugal, I'm afraid

Thanks for pointing me to Peter Daughtrey's 'Atlantis and the Silver city'. Other people have suggested Thera, of course, others Djerba, off the Tunisian coast, where one day I mean to go to pay my respects at the cemetery for nameless African migrants drowned in the middle passage. Do you know Rose Macaulay's scintillating 'They Went to Portugal' ?

Thanks again. Much more than I expected.
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Old Sep 20th 2017, 4:35 pm   #10
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Default Re: Elvas, Beja, Serpa, Mertola, Silves

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Originally Posted by Sancho View Post
Thanks very much indeed for all the answers and suggestions. What an amazingly helpful lot you are.

I knew about people like Ibn ‘Ammar and al-Mu’tadid, writing about lovely Christian girls in the balconied castle, but nothing else about Silves. Imagining Coeur de Lion sacking it will make it even more interesting.

I'll get in touch with the Algarve History Association. I seem to be interested in everything they're interested in, including Iran.

I'd already made a note about seeing the Minas de Sao Domingos if possible. Of the other places you suggest, Moura sounds the most likely. It's more or less on the route in any case. The others - Castelo de Vide, Marvão, Monsaraz... - look as if they'd require a day or so's detour. I mean to travel by local bus mainly, or by train.

You're right. The Hotel de Moura looks the sort of place I like.

Here are a couple of things about George Borrow's travels in Portugal. It may be possible to locate the tower he visited between Estremoz and Elvas, and perhaps even some of the inns he stayed in.

This

This

I also hope to see the public 'fountain' where he sat in Elvas, and the British military cemetery there (recently opened or visited or something by the Duchess of Wellington, I think).

William Beckford's good on a lot of things and places, but not on Portugal, I'm afraid

Thanks for pointing me to Peter Daughtrey's 'Atlantis and the Silver city'. Other people have suggested Thera, of course, others Djerba, off the Tunisian coast, where one day I mean to go to pay my respects at the cemetery for nameless African migrants drowned in the middle passage. Do you know Rose Macaulay's scintillating 'They Went to Portugal' ?

Thanks again. Much more than I expected.
Ah, I forgot to say - down the mountain from Marvão, on the way to Castelo de Vide, you pass through a small village called "Portagem". This seemed an odd name to me, as it is what you saw on bus stops in Lisbon and was equivalent to "Fare Stage" in the UK. However, it actually means "Toll" and a short wander tells you why.

There is a "Roman" bridge beside the swimming pool and across it is a tower with a plaque on it commemorating the passage of the Jews from Spain to Portugal following their expulsion in 1492 - some 16000 crossed here, protected by the stronghold at Marvão, and paid a "toll" to enter Portugal (although, not for long...)

History coming out of your ears!
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Last edited by macliam; Sep 20th 2017 at 4:58 pm.
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Old Sep 26th 2017, 5:16 am   #11
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Default Re: Elvas, Beja, Serpa, Mertola, Silves

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Ah, I forgot to say - down the mountain from Marvão, on the way to Castelo de Vide, you pass through a small village called "Portagem". This seemed an odd name to me, as it is what you saw on bus stops in Lisbon and was equivalent to "Fare Stage" in the UK. However, it actually means "Toll" and a short wander tells you why.

There is a "Roman" bridge beside the swimming pool and across it is a tower with a plaque on it commemorating the passage of the Jews from Spain to Portugal following their expulsion in 1492 - some 16000 crossed here, protected by the stronghold at Marvão, and paid a "toll" to enter Portugal (although, not for long...)
https://shalommorris.files.wordpress...6/img_2834.jpg
History coming out of your ears!
Thanks. I'll look out for that. It reminds me of the famous 'Tabula Traiana' on the left bank of the Danube, in the Iron Gates gorge.

Trajan s Plaque - Tabula Traiana

One day I'd like to go there too, to see the fish-human heads at Lepenski Vir.
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Old Sep 26th 2017, 9:55 am   #12
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Default Re: Elvas, Beja, Serpa, Mertola, Silves

Interesting. Few comments about the Peninsular wars.

In short, the French had difficulty penetrating South of the Tagus.

Much of the history of this campaign is further North.

After Sir John Mooreºs force was evacuated at La Coruna, Wellington, Beresford & Co began the fight back in Lisbon, first by protecting Lisbon by fortifying the region North of Lisbon at with a range of forts called "The lines of Torres Vedras" (in Portuguese - As Linhas das Torres Vedras)

In the town, where we have just moved to Malveira, near Mafra, there is a small keep which was one of the rear line artillery fortifications north or Lisbon. Not much to see now but interesting.

When Wellington & the Portuguese forces started moving out, they moved North & East.

For example, in Lousã, at the https://palaciodalousa.com/# , there were on display a couple of years ago a couple of letters written both by Wellington and Soult when they passed through.

Some resources:

ICLTV ‹ Cilt - Centro de Interpretação das Linhas de Torres

Historical Route of the Lines of Torres | Câmara Municipal de Mafra

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peninsular_War
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Old Sep 26th 2017, 5:09 pm   #13
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Default Re: Elvas, Beja, Serpa, Mertola, Silves

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sancho View Post
I hope to come to Portugal for a few weeks later in the year, and if I do I'd like to see these places. I wonder if anyone knows them and whether they think there's anything I should know about them - e.g. advice on what to see, where to sleep, what to avoid, what to drink...

In Elvas, I'll be particularly interested in anything / anywhere to do with the Peninsular Wars and just after (including George Borrow's visit), and in Silves anything to do with Hispano-Islamic poetry.
My favourites in this area along with others already posted area are:-

North of Moura

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alqueva_Dam One of the largest in Western Europe

South of Moura
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moura_..._Power_Station I believe it was the largest in Europe when first built

Serpa
Aqueduto de Serpa - Ancient Aqueducts on Waymarking.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_of_Serpa

About 7 kms West of Serpa where the road to Beja crosses the Guadiana river just upriver of the newish road bridge there is a railway bridge.
One of my friends of Portuguese decent remembers when travelling with his father crossing the river by car on the rail bridge as there was no road bridge when he was younger.
You will see the railway has a station and a road approach on either side of the river
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Old Oct 2nd 2017, 7:56 am   #14
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Default Re: Elvas, Beja, Serpa, Mertola, Silves

Thanks very much again for the ideas and suggestions.

I have Moura pencilled in as a possible stop (I think I said so before), and if I go there the dam and power station will be refreshingly different after the Moorish sites and so on that I'll be seeing otherwise. Both of them sound absolutely huge.

After arriving, I mean to spend a couple of days and nights in Lisbon, mainly to see the Oceanarium and the Maritime Museum, one of which I didn't have time for when I was last there and the other of which I couldn't find ! If I have or can make enough free time apart from those, I hoped to go to see the Torres Vedras fortifications at Sobral (I remember a Conan Doyle story I read when I was a boy, about Brigadier Gerard coming across a British regimental fox hunt outside the Torres Vedras) and Wellesley's HQ at Pero Negro, but they all seem rather far. I believe there are tour-vans that go out there, which may help. Vimeiro might be interesting too, but that's even further. I'm not that 'into' military history, though, so if it turns out to be impossible it won't be a tragedy.

A few years ago I was in Oporto. Looking at the river and the heights on the far side, it's clear where and how the crossing happened. And in Spain I went to Corunna to see Moore's tomb. It was erected by Soult, I think. Moore having been a great humanist as well as a general, the classical sarcophagus is appropriate.

At prep school I learnt 'The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna', and I was pleased to see the first four verses carved on the gateway of the mirador beyond the tomb in San Carlos gardens. It was in late November, but there were still wreaths of poppies.

(James Wolfe, another humanist, who scaled the Heights of Abraham and took Quebec, and I believe was related to the author of the poem, is supposed to have said, as he lay dying, that he would rather have written that poem than taken Quebec. At least, that's what they told us at prep school.)

I'm not sure if the French ever really tried to get into the far south-west of the peninsular, and if they didn't why.

There was plenty of naval action all along that coast too, of course (and not only British, and the British didn't always win when they were involved. Corunna, Vigo, the Tagus (Vikings, inter alia), Cape St Vincent, Sagres (lost one won one), etc.

At Corunna I recited Charles Wolfe ("Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note"). Standing at the Cape of St Vincent, having thought about Rodney (was it Rodney ?), I shall recite Robert Browning "Nobly, nobly Cape Saint Vincent to the North-West died away".

Here is where I found out about the British cemetery at Elvas. Someone might be interested if they're up that way - The British Cemetery, Elvas Portugal
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Old Oct 2nd 2017, 8:32 am   #15
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Default Re: Elvas, Beja, Serpa, Mertola, Silves

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Originally Posted by Sancho View Post
Thanks very much again for the ideas and suggestions.

I have Moura pencilled in as a possible stop (I think I said so before), and if I go there the dam and power station will be refreshingly different after the Moorish sites and so on that I'll be seeing otherwise. Both of them sound absolutely huge.

After arriving, I mean to spend a couple of days and nights in Lisbon, mainly to see the Oceanarium and the Maritime Museum, one of which I didn't have time for when I was last there and the other of which I couldn't find ! If I have or can make enough free time apart from those, I hoped to go to see the Torres Vedras fortifications at Sobral (I remember a Conan Doyle story I read when I was a boy, about Brigadier Gerard coming across a British regimental fox hunt outside the Torres Vedras) and Wellesley's HQ at Pero Negro, but they all seem rather far. I believe there are tour-vans that go out there, which may help. Vimeiro might be interesting too, but that's even further. I'm not that 'into' military history, though, so if it turns out to be impossible it won't be a tragedy.

A few years ago I was in Oporto. Looking at the river and the heights on the far side, it's clear where and how the crossing happened. And in Spain I went to Corunna to see Moore's tomb. It was erected by Soult, I think. Moore having been a great humanist as well as a general, the classical sarcophagus is appropriate.

At prep school I learnt 'The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna', and I was pleased to see the first four verses carved on the gateway of the mirador beyond the tomb in San Carlos gardens. It was in late November, but there were still wreaths of poppies.

(James Wolfe, another humanist, who scaled the Heights of Abraham and took Quebec, and I believe was related to the author of the poem, is supposed to have said, as he lay dying, that he would rather have written that poem than taken Quebec. At least, that's what they told us at prep school.)

I'm not sure if the French ever really tried to get into the far south-west of the peninsular, and if they didn't why.

There was plenty of naval action all along that coast too, of course (and not only British, and the British didn't always win when they were involved. Corunna, Vigo, the Tagus (Vikings, inter alia), Cape St Vincent, Sagres (lost one won one), etc.

At Corunna I recited Charles Wolfe ("Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note"). Standing at the Cape of St Vincent, having thought about Rodney (was it Rodney ?), I shall recite Robert Browning "Nobly, nobly Cape Saint Vincent to the North-West died away".

Here is where I found out about the British cemetery at Elvas. Someone might be interested if they're up that way - The British Cemetery, Elvas Portugal
The French were held up at Cadiz by an extended siege ,the South of Portugal , the Algarve probably had no strategic value.
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