The pleasantly provincial town of Moura, 50 km south of Monsaraz, is a surprisingly opulent place full of grand mansions, pretty squares and pedestrianized shopping streets. It’s also the closest town to the controversial Alqueva dam. The Moors occupied the town from the eighth century until 1232 – an Arabic well still survives in the old town – and Moura is named after a Moorish maiden, Moura Saluquia, who ostensibly threw herself from the castle tower in despair when Christians murdered her betrothed and overran the town.
The discovery of naturally carbonated thermal springs in the late nineteenth century prompted Moura’s eventual prosperity; the spa water still dribbles from the Fonte das Três Bicas (Fountain of Three Spouts), but the spa no longer operates. Nevertheless, the adjacent Jardim Doutor Santiago gardens make a pleasant place to stroll, with lots of shady trees. West of here rises the Manueline Igreja de São João Baptista, with the entrance to the castle beyond, just past the large market building.
Things to do in Moura
Although this charming little town spills with authenticity of ‘true’ Portuguese life, there is not much to do in the name of tourism. There is the Museum Arabe with remnants from the Moorish rule and the Church, Nossa Senhora do Carmo, the first Carmelite convent in Portugal.
Weather in Moura
The best time to visit Moura is during late Spring and early Autumn, when the weather is warm and calm. The Summer months can be particularly hot and humid, with temperatures around 30 degrees. During the Spring, the average temperature is around 23 degrees, as with Autumn.
Featured Image, Moura, Portugal © Inacio Pires / Shutterstock