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Trip Planner Europe  /  Portugal  /  Alentejo  /  Beja District  /  Mertola

Mertola

4.4
Castles · Bodies of Water · Outdoor Activities
Mértola is a municipality in southeastern Portuguese Alentejo near the Spanish border. In 2011, the population was 7,274, in an area of approximately 1292.87km2: it is the sixth-largest municipality in Portugal. Meanwile, it is the second-lowest population centre by density with approximately 5.62 persons/1km2 (second to the adjacent Alcoutim).The seat of the municipality is the town of Mértola, which has around 2800 inhabitants (2011), located on a hill over the Guadiana River. Its strategic location made it an important fluvial commercial port in Classical Antiquity, through the period of Umayyad conquest of Hispania: Mértola's main church (the Church of Nossa Senhora da Anunciação) was the only medieval mosque to have survived the period in Portugal.HistoryDuring Classical Antiquity, Mértola was inhabited by Phoenicians, Carthaginians and finally the Romans, who called it Myrtilis Iulia. The strategic location of Mértola, on a hill by the northernmost navigable part of the Guadiana river, was crucial in its early development. Agricultural products grown in the villae nearby and valuable minerals (silver, gold and tin) obtained from the lower Alentejo region were sent from the fluvial port of Mértola via the Guadiana to Southern Hispania and the Mediterranean. Between 1st and 2nd century, Myrtilis, was part of the larger Pacensis region (under the capital Beja/Pax Julia), acquired a great importance, as a dynamic commercial centre, permitting it to mint its own coin.. The town was raised to the status of a Municipium in times of Emperor Augustus and was connected to important Roman cities (Beja, Évora) through a road system.
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