Portugal City Travel Guide: Serpa
Serpa, 30km east of Beja and about the same distance south west of Moura, epitomizes this area of the Alentejo: handsome, historic and unhurried.
Serpa, like other towns in this now fairly remote area of the Alentejo, has a history peopled by Celts, Romans and Moors.
Serpa, with a population of around 15,000 inhabitants, is now an agricultural hub for the surrounding expanses of mostly cultivated wheat. The town is also known for its lamb and a spicy and pungent cheese. This area is one of the hottest in Iberia with temperatures sometimes reaching 40°C in summer. As a result of the almost constant yearly sunshine solar power companies have invested in huge solar power stations in the hinterland.
The town of Serpa is slightly raised from the plain and it is here in the walled center of the old town that the rambling castle can be found. Damaged during the War of Spanish Succession (1701-14) the Castelo de Serpa and its fortifications were originally built by King Dinis after the Moors were expelled in 1232.
Other historical places of interest in Serpa include the Clock Tower (Torre do Relógio) and a slender aqueduct on the west side of the old citadel.
At the foot of the castle is the Igreja de Santa Maria, Serpa's main church with a beautifully carved wooden altar and 17th century azulejos. Close by is the Praça da República, the main square.
Museums in Serpa include the Museu Etnográfico (Ethnographic Museum) just outside the walls on the east side and a Museu do Relógio (Clock and Watch Museum) with a collection of over 2,000 time pieces dating from the 17th century onwards. The Museu do Relógio is in the Convento do Mosteirinho near Praça da República. There is a sister institution now in Evora.
South west of the town center is the Municipal de Serpa a large park with a public swimming pool and a campsite and caravan site. Jardim Municipal Camacho Pimenta is a smaller green space due south of the center.
Serpa's main festival or feira takes place on the weekend closest to August 24th.
About two kilometers east outside Serpa is the Capela de São Gens, a former mosque now a church, located close to the Estalagem De Sao Gens Hotel. The only other example of a mosque now serving as a church is the Igreja Matriz de Mértola in nearby Mértola. Follow the N260 towards the Spanish border and then the signs to the estalagem (hotel).
Serpa Tourist Office
Serpa Tourist Office.
Rua dos Cavalos 19.
Tel. 284 544 727.
Find information on where to stay and eat in Serpa.
Getting to Serpa
Serpa is not connected by railway and the nearest train stations are in nearby Beja or Vila Real de San Antonio on the coast to the south near the border crossing with Spain.
Serpa is on the N260 north east of Mértola.
Serpa has bus connections with Mertola (90 minutes) and Lisbon (3 hours) via Beja (30 minutes) with Rede Expressos. Rodoviária do Alentejo has buses to Moura (35 minutes). Many more destinations can be reached by first travelling to Beja. Serpa's bus station is south of the main urban center just off Avenida da Paz.
Recommended places to stay in Serpa include Beatriz and Casa de Serpa both near Igeja de São Salvador, the Casa da Palmeira, the Hotel Pulo do Lobo and the Monte Da Morena Agro-Turismo 1km out of town to the south west. See here for a complete listing of hotels in Serpa.
Book Hotel Accommodation in Serpa
Try the local cuisine of Serpa at A Adega 76 on Rua da Rossio, O Tapas on Rua Quente 17 or Adega Molhó-Bico also on Rua Quente at No. 1.
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There is free WiFi on Rua Pedro Anes in the old city at certain times of the day.
The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.
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