The village has ancient origins. It was inhabited as early as the 6th century BC by the Aravi tribe, who were followed by the Romans, Suevi and Arabs. The reason it was such a prized location becomes clear as soon as you arrive here and take in its location.
In 1063 Ferdinand the Great, King of León, captured the village and converted it to Christianity, giving it the name of Malva, later Marialva. But it is also said that King D. Afonso II of Portugal donated it in 1217 to D. Maria Alva, one of his lovers, and that this is the true origin of the name.
Marialva is also the old pilgrims’ way and still celebrates the annual holiday of St James the Apostle on 25th July.
As you walk through the village, ancient streets flanked by walls and Gothic doorways lead to a small square with a distinctly medieval atmosphere. This is the site of the 15th century granite pillory, the tribunal and the former prison.
The 16th century parish church, with a Manueline doorway, is dedicated to Santiago (St James).
And, if you still have enough energy, continue up the hill to the stalwart castle, one of the largest in the region.