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Moura



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The name of Moura (Moorish woman or girl) is born from a mixture of legend and history. Sal˙quia, daughter of the region's Moorish governor, was waiting for the arrival of her lover when his sequit was attacked and he was killed by the Portuguese, who then used the Arabs' clothes to trick Sal˙quia into ordering the drawbridge to be lowered. She is said to have committed suicide, throwing herself from the castle tower, both by grief for her bridegroom's death and guilt for the enemy's victory.

The Arab influence is still visible at this peaceful town, surrounded by oaks and olive trees, particularly in the narrow streets and low whitewashed houses, with their peculiar chimneys, of the Moorish quarter.

Little is left of the 13th-century castle (destroyed by Spanish troops in 1709), but the Church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo, where the first Carmelite convent of Portugal was founded, keeps its cloister of Gothic and Renaissance influence and exhibits beautiful 18th-century frescoes on the ceiling of the main chapel.

Nature lovers will enjoy the beauty of the banks of the river Guadiana, where typical oar-boats, hexagonal and with flat bottom, are still used.

The local cuisine includes many of the Alentejo specialities, such as gaspacho (a bread, tomato and cucumber soup served cold), ensopado de borrego (stew of young lamb) or the local ašorda, a kind of bread soup with garlic and coriander served with dried codfish, grilled sardines or horse-mackerel.

Some blacksmith shops at Moura still dedicate themselves to forged iron works, producing artistically carved doors and pratical or decoration objects, such as picture-frames and candlesticks.

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