Built on top of a mountain massif Marialva rises imposingly as a town frozen in time. Occupied since Pre-history, it was the centre of a Lusitanian tribe, the Aravos, who built a hill fort and fought bravely against the Roman invasions. During the first years of the 2nd century, during the reigns of Emperors Trajan and Hadrian, the small settlement was conquered and renamed Avarorum.
After being occupied by the Visigoths and Arabs, it was conquered by Fernando Magno in 1063 and it became an advanced defence station during the Christian Reconquista. After Portugal gained its independence, in 1179, King Afonso Henriques granted the charter to Marialva, encouraged its repopulation and built the castle which now rises high on top of the town and which might have been built over the years that followed. The construction works have certainly continued through the reign of King Sancho I. The town grew around the inaccessible castle, and it became of the most important in the area during medieval times. King D. Dinis established a fair in the town in 1286 and it was probably him who ordered the building of the walls which still protect the habitation centre.
Notwithstanding its growth, Marialva began to decline progressively from the 16th century onwards, just like many other villages and towns in Interior Beira because they were too far from the Atlantic Ocean and the discoveries. The castle was outdated when compared to modern fortifications and the population decreased progressively until the mid-twentieth century, when the Government recovered the structure of the walls and battlements at a time when Marialva was already in ruins.
Nowadays, with its imposing castle, walls and a solid keep rising from the rocks, Marialva stands out in the Interior Beira landscape, rising like a memory from medieval times.
In Marialva, you should visit:
The castle and the traces of the old fortress
The São Tiago church, with Manueline doors and baroque altars
The Nossa Senhora dos Passos Chapel
The court and jail, built in the 17th century
The Roman city of Civitas Aravorum