“It is understandable that from this place, high up in the keep at Marvão Castle, visitors may respectfully murmur, ‘How great is the world.’ ”
- José Saramago
The border lands between Portugal and Spain boast numerous medieval castles with deep history and breathtaking views. Many of these within a few hours of Celtic Lodge Alentejo cottage.
Celtic Lodge lies ~5km from Castelo de Vide, a dreamy town of 3400 inhabitants built on the foothills of Castelo de Vide castle. You can visit the well preserved fortress any day 9am-5pm for free. Take the time to walk through the old town within the castle walls, and enjoy some coffee, drinks or food in one of Castelo de Vide's many cafes, bars and restaurants. Castelo de Vide is a 10 min drive from Celtic Lodge, or you can easily walk to town (1-1.5hr following the PR2 CVD (Percurso da Torrinha) trail). You can also bike to town (the way in to town has several uphill stretches, however the way home will be a relaxing downhill ride) but don't forget to bring a bike lock, it will be easier to visit the castle by foot.
Marvão Castle is the most famous castle in the area, having recently earned a place in #1 New York Times bestselling book, '1000 Places to see before you die'. The castle lies a quick 20-25 min drive from Celtic Lodge cottage, and on a clear day you can see it in the distance to the south-west of Celtic Lodge cottage. You can also hike to the castle following the PR2 CVD (Percurso da Torrinha) to Castelo de vide town, and from there the PR3 CVD-MRV (Percurso Castelo de Vide - Marvão) trail to Marvão. This is a ~15 km (5-6hrs) hike with some elevation, along rural and natural landscape, with sections of medieval paved road. If you would like to hike one way, you can schedule a taxi to bring you back. The castle is open 10am-5pm everyday (except some holidays) and admission is 1,50 € for adults and free for children under 12 years old.
Another Castle worth a visit is Castillo de Luna in Albuquerque, Spain. This castle is a military fortress in the Spanish town Alb, built to watch over the border between Spain and Portugal. Castillo de Luna is a ~1hr drive from Celtic Lodge, but worth the drive. The castle offers a fantastic view of the Extremadura plains, and the well preserved keep holds some fun surprises. Access to the castle is free but with guide only. There are 5 free guided tours every day except Mondays. Tours are in Spanish only, but anyone can join. The castle entrance is a gated tunnel in the castle wall, without any posted information. You might think you're at the wrong place, but just wait for the hour and the guide will come to open the gate. Also keep in mind that although the border between Portugal and Spain is open, you will be crossing into a different country.