Vila Real de Santo António What to discover and how to enjoy your visit
The Municipality of Vila Real de Santo António is divided into the following parishes: Monte Gordo; Vila Nova de Cacela; Vila Real de Santo António
Municipal Holiday: 13th May
Inhabitantes: around 19,200
Area: 57.5 km²
It was in the 18th Century, immediately after the earthquake of 1755, that the Marquis of Pombal ordered the construction of this town, laid out on a geometrical grid of perpendicular streets, in reproduction of his work in the lower part of the city of Lisbon. Places of interest we recommend are the main Parish Church of Our Lady of Incarnation and the Marquis de Pombal Square – symbol of the linear architecture.
In bygone days this was a fishing town much involved in the fish canning industry. Nowadays it is much more active in tourism, thanks to the municipality’s beaches of endless golden sands and, due to the proximity of the Mediterranean, temperate waters. The most popular beaches with summer visitors are Monte Gordo, do Alemão and Manta Rota.
Another beautiful place to visit is the small hamlet of Cacela Velha, right on the edge of the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, where much appreciated oysters are easy to find. Set on a hill, this hamlet has a charming panoramic view from its castle walls over the countryside. With few houses, but very friendly folk, it is here you can try excellent fresh fish and shellfish. In the small harbour you can catch a small taxi-boat and explore the edges of the Nature Reserve.
Here, also, local culinary dishes are based on fish with a recommendation to try a “tuna steak” or a “estupeta”, name given to pieces of tuna in brine, that is then stewed with tomato and accompanied by boiled potatoes.
Commercial relations with neighbouring Spain are accentuated by its proximity. Due to the navigability of the Guardiana, visits can easily be made to the area of Alcoutim, in the interior of northeast Algarve, as well as a “jump” over to the other bank to “hablar con nuestros hermanos” (chat with our brothers).
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