Ponta da Atalaia / Ribat da Arrifana

Ribat - Medieval Islamic Period (6924)
The Ribat of Arrifana is located on an isolated peninsula, delimited by high cliffs that drop vertically on the Atlantic Ocean, facing the rock called Pedra da Atalaia. This location had an important role in the control and defence of the coast. Works on the site made it possible to identify various religious and domestic structures, chronologically framed in the 12th century (Islamic Medieval period: Almoravid / Almohad), which allowed the site to be interpreted as a ribat (Islamic military and religious structure), possibly founded by Ibn Quasi, its abandonment occurring after his death, around 1151. Arrifana's Ribat is organized in four areas with different functions. At the entrance, a large courtyard is identified with two mosques and a set of rectangular compartments located to the south-east (Madrasa - Quranic school). East of these structures, a necropolis with roughly 65 graves was identified. The graves were of rectangular or trapezoidal shape, covered by earth tumuli, enclosed by schist slabs and marked by steles, some of them possessing epigraphs. The burials were individual, with the body deposited in lateral decubitus, laid down over the right side, oriented south west / north east, with the head facing south east (Mecca). On the southern side of the peninsula, vestiges of four mosques were identified, one of which large, rectangular, with compartments and a mirhab indicating the quibla, on the entrance wall. In addition to these structures, a set of rectangular structures with several compartments and housing functions was identified, some of which with courtyard. Some metres away from the aforementioned structures, in crest overlooking the sea, a small mosque with attached compartments was identified as well as one other mosque with a circular minaret, possibly having a greater religious significance. The architectural features of the Arrifana ribat are similar to the Andalusian ribat of Guadamarra (Alicante), as can be seen in its open urbanism, the absence of a defensive wall and the adaptation to the terrain where it is deployed, inspired by the ribats identified in North Africa. The collected artefacts reflect the diversity of activities developed in the ribat (preparation and consumption of food, fishing, gathering of molluscs, hunting and spinning and weaving activities), as well as their religious importance (epigraphed schist plates integrated in architectural structures, candleholders, amulets and small inscriptions expressing religious faith).


The archaeological site is protected by a fence, having visiting conditions, and is is part of the Al-Mutamid Route.

Visit conditions

Free entrance




    How to get there? Best practices

    Best practices

    Good practices when visiting archaeological sites

    To visit an archaeological site is to connect with our origins, to understand our path and evolution as a species integrated in the environment, and to respect and safeguard our heritage so that future generations can also visit and enjoy it.

    Walking the paths and enjoying the structures and archaeological pieces that survived over time, fosters the understanding of what is different, but also of what is common among different populations: basically, what identifies us as Homo Sapiens.

    More than just vestiges and ruins of the past, archaeological sites showcase our capacity for creative thought, adaptation, interconnection, comprehension and resilience. Without these traits we would not have been successful as cultural beings participating in an ongoing evolutionary process. These sites also allow to consider choices made in the past thus contributing for decisions in the present to be made with greater awareness and knowledge.

    Archaeological sites are unique and irreplaceable. These sites are fragile resources vulnerable to changes driven by human development. The information they keep, if destroyed, can never be recovered again.

    As such, the Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage (DGPC) invites all visitors to enjoy the beauty and authenticity of these sites, while helping to preserve them for future generations by adopting the following set of good practices:

    • Respect all signs; 
    • Do not try to access fenced areas; 
    • Do not climb, sit or walk on archaeological structures and remains; 
    • Respect areas where archaeological excavations are being carried out, not disturbing them; 
    • Do not collect materials or sediments;
    • Do not write or make graffiti on archaeological structures; 
    • Put the garbage in appropriate containers. If none exist, take the garbage with you until you find a suitable container; 
    • Leave the archaeological site as you found it; 
    • Do not drive bicycles or motor vehicles over archaeological sites; 
    • Respect and protect the plants and animals that live in the areas surrounding archaeological sites;
    • Report signs of vandalism or destruction to DGPC or Regional Directorates of Culture (DRC);
    • Share the visiting experience and the archaeological sites, as a way of raising awareness to their preservation and making them better known;
    • Do not buy archaeological materials and report to public security authorities, DGPC or DRC, if you suspect that archaeological materials may be for sale.

    Further information:

    AIA / ATTA (2013) – Guide to best practices for archaeological tourism. 

    Raposo, J. (2016) – Código de conduta para uma visita responsável a sítios arqueológicos. In Sítios arqueológicos portugueses revisitados: 500 arqueossítios ou conjuntos em condições de fruição pública responsável. Al-madan, 2ª série, p. 20 – 77. 

    DGPC contacts

    Phone: +351213614200 | Email: informacaoarqueologica@dgpc.pt


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