Do you want to visit one of the prettiest towns in the Algarve? Look no further than Tavira. This charming town sits close to the Spanish border, only a short 30 kms (or 18 miles) in the Algarve region. Tavira has virtually remained unchanged. It’s origins date back to the 8th century. You will still find its traditional Portuguese characteristics and Moorish influences still evident. Just one of the reasons why this charming town is a hidden gem.
About the Algarve region
Most of the Algarve is currently under massive rebuilding. Resorts, golf courses, shopping and restaurants are popping up everywhere. All to cater to the vast number of tourists who are flocking to this area. And, why not? Its year-round sunshine, soaring cliffs, unusual rock formations, turquoise water and golden beaches are what you will find on the west side of the Algarve region (west of the Faro airport).
In the east, you find 18,000 hectors of protected land, bird-filled lagoons and the islands of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa and authentic fishing villages. The Ria Formosa lagoon is a system of barrier islands that connect the sea through 6 inlets. This is one of the most important areas for aquatic birds in Portugal, hosting on a regular basis more than 20,000 during the winter period. As well as being an important stop-over point in the migration routes between Europe and Africa. This part of the Algarve has less hotels, less tourists and it is where life definitely slows down. This is where you will find Tavira.
Let's explore Tavira
Tavira is best explored by simply walking and meandering through its streets and alleyways. You will instantly be mesmerized by its charm and beauty. From the the latticework doors with door knockers in the shape of hands (a Moorish influence) to the Azulejo tiles. Almost all the buildings are whitewashed and feature bright yellow details. Simply let your feet lead the way.
The ruined castle dates back to the Moorish era. Most of what now stands is a 17th-century reconstruction. You can walk along the fortified wall to a watchtower. This offers a complete panorama view of the waves of triangular orange rooftops with white chimney stacks. The interior contains a beautiful botanic garden.
2. Church of Mercy
The Renaissance church was built between 1541 and 1551. The details of the wonderfully carved arched doorway and Portuguese coat of arms is believed to be the work of the local architect and stonemason, Andre Pilarte, who also worked on Lisbon’s Jeronimos Monastery.
3. Church of Saint Maria
A 13th century church originally built in Gothic style, it was severely damaged by the 1755 earthquake and needed to be rebuilt. Of the original elements, the doorway and clock tower.
4. Roman bridge
The seven-arched bridge that spans the slow-flowing river of Ria Gilão is thought to be from Moorish times in the 1100s. Although most of the structure had to be reconstructed in 1667. It’s a pedestrian-only crossing bridge that offers benches in small cut-out niches making it a perfect spot to take in the city’s historic streetscape.
5. Street Signs
Everything is a little more special and authentic in Tavira. Even the town’s street signs are charming, aren’t they? Once you come upon them, they usually led you to a historic landmark. They are especially helpful as you are aimlessly wandering the old city.
As a holidaymaker…
This city is an absolute gem. It offers travellers a diverse holiday. Whether you are looking to relax on the beach or wander a historic town. Tavira offers you both!