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Tavira: ancient city and fishing port of the Algarve

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Tavira together with Lagos is one of the most beautiful historical cities on the Algarve coast. The city is located along the banks of the Rio Gilão 3 km from the mouth of the river. The many churches and the beautiful Renaissance and Baroque palaces, with Manueline windows and facades covered with splendid colored azulejos are the buildings that characterize the historic center of this town.


In the VIII a.C. century the city was colonized by the Phoenicians. It was later an important center during Roman domination. As evidence of this are the findings of a large Roman settlement, the ancient city of Balsa, to the east of the present city near the Luz de Tavira locality.

With the Arab occupation, which occurred in the 8th century, Tavira increased its importance thanks to its port and excellent fishing area. In the first centuries of Arab domination the city was part of the Caliphate of Cordoba. Later in the 11th century it became part of the Emirate of Badajoz. Then in the mid-twelfth century it was under the rule of the Umar for a short time independent before it fell under Moroccan rule.

In 1242 the city was reconquered by the Christians. In 1520 Tavira obtained city status from the king of Portugal. Its port became one of the most important fishing ports in the Algarve. In 1755 the terrible earthquake that destroyed Lisbon caused great damage also in Tavira.

The city was rebuilt in the following years, but gradually lost its importance as a fishing port. Today it is a city whose economy is highly dependent on tourism. The historic center has been well restored and has a pleasant appearance.


Unfortunately, the 1755 earthquake destroyed a good part of the buildings. But despite this Tavira, it is a beautiful town with interesting old buildings. The village is dominated by an Arab castle with a beautiful park around it, from which you can enjoy a beautiful view of the town.

Among the buildings of historical interest near the castle we can visit the church of Santa Maria do Castelo, built in place of an Arab mosque. The Renaissance portal of the Misericordia church (1541) is also very beautiful. There are also the remains of a Roman bridge restored during the Arab domination. The Tavira coast, largely protected by the Ria Formosa Natural Park, has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve. Including Praia do Lacém, Praia de Cabanas de Tavira, Praia da Ilha de Tavira, Santa Luzia and Praia do Barril.

Nearby are the parish church of Luz de Tavira with a beautiful Manueline portal. While in the villages of Cabanas and Santa Luzia there are two ancient fortresses. Finally in Torre de Aves there are the remains of a Roman villa.



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