Most visitors to the village just north of Portalegre feel as if they have stepped into an other era. Marvao is a Portuguese fort on the border to Spain that has remained unchanged for over 800 years. From its mountain perch the fortified settlement commands sweeping views of the Spanish Extremadura and the Portuguese interior. A tangle of narrow streets, stairways and squares awaits inside the city walls. The 13th century castle protected by several rings of walls towers above the town. It is best to leave the car down in Portagem and take the medieval mule paths through the cork oak woods to the fortress (follow the red-yellow trail markers). The site is part of the Serra de Mamede, a natural park with forested mountain peaks reaching an altitude of 1,000 m (3,280 f).