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Convento São Francisco de Mértola

Organic Gardens

All forty hectares of land around the Convento are maintained without the use of pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilisers. They are full of herbs, uncommon plants and unusual trees. Quality herbs are grown principally for use as special teas, as well as for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Many centuries ago four hectares of the garden were terraced. Ancient walls surround this area and parallel to the southern boundary, runs a Roman road that linked Mértola to the Algarve.

Old gnarled vines grow on some of the terraces, while trees and bushes overshadow footpaths that lead visitors to lawns, contemporary sculptures and stone seats with perfect vantage points to view both rivers.

Rare plants, including species of wild orchids, flourish in the protection of the grounds and in spring there is a huge variety of wild flowers. During summer, when it can be exceptionally hot and dry, water flowing in gulleys around the cultivated areas, provide a real oasis. The system emulates an ancient Moorish method of irrigation but the driving force that raises water from a well is a mechanical donkey, rather than a living animal. See Water Museum

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