Mértola presents a defensive system since, at least, the Roman occupancy of the region, with descriptions dated from 440 a.C., referring to a fortification named as “Myrtilis Julia”. Yet the interestingness of this region, with a fluvial that linked the Mediterranean and the south inland of the Iberian Peninsula, had already called other civilizations before.
As from the 8th century the Arabs dominate the region, with the consequent fortification of the town. This domination would last until the Portuguese conquest in 1238, and afterwards many restoration and renovation works took place, namely the construction of the donjon by the Master of the Santiago Order to whom the Castle was delivered to.
The commercial importance of Mértola started decaying over the centuries and only during the kingdom of king D. Manuel I (1495 to 1521) it gains back some of the ancient importance, specially with the cereal trading for the supply of the Portuguese army in the north of Africa.
Already in the middle of the 20th century, the ruins of this Castle were classified as National Monument, receiving many conservation works, and nowadays the Donjon is an exhibition area for the many Roman, Visigoth, Islamic and Portuguese archaeological vestiges until the 18th century.
This Fortress, apart from the Donjon with over 30 meters high, has also two more towers and in the centre of the Arms Square there is a cistern covered by a vault.
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