Cacela Velha Fortress

Vila Real de Santo António
Cacela Velha , 8900-000 , Cacela Velha , Vila Real de Santo António

A dozen kilometers east of Tavira is the village of Cacela, on top of a hill from where one can see the eastern end of the Ria Formosa.

Conquered by the Knights of Santiago in 1249, it is a town of narrow streets and whitewashed houses, against the background of a small fortress to guard the coast, and where smells almond and orange.

On the wall of a house, read the poem by Sophia de Melo Breyner: "Strong-squares were won / for their power and were besieged / Cities of the sea by their wealth / But Cacela / was required only for the beauty" . To reach the beach vacationers turn to boaters service that carry a quick trip through the estuary.

Cacela Velha was a meeting point for civilisations and offers a stunning view since it stands atop a sandstone hill overlooking the Ria Formosa.

It was occupied during the Roman period but its days of greatest glory were under Muslim occupation when the region was known as al-Gharb al-Ándalus, – "West of Andaluz", and the village itself was called Hisn-Qastallah, giving rise to the name "Cacela". The fortress suffered a number of vicissitudes over the course of the following centuries. It was finally ruined as a result of the 1755 earthquake but was later rebuilt. As a consequence of the damage caused by the 1755 earthquake, the population had to move to the royal road where the new town of Vila Nova de Cacela was built. The old town, next to the sea, was named "Cacela-a-Velha" (Old Cacela). 

In 1897, it was taken over by the GNR's Brigada Fiscal (National Republican Guard, Fiscal Brigade), which means that tourists cannot currently visit the monument. If you look eastwards from the square in front of the fortress, you can see the final section of the Ria Formosa, which stretches up to a few hundred metres from the locality of Manta Rota, the Bay of Monte Gordo and, farther on, Spain.

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Built Heritage