Located along the banks of the Guadiana River, next to a small hill, you will find the picturesque resort town of Castro Marim. The town while being a popular tourist destination in Algarve is also home to the Vila Real de Santo António Salt Marsh Nature Reserve which covers an area of almost 2,100 hectares and is home to a rich assortment of flora and fauna which call Portugal home.
Castle of Castro Marim, Algarve, Portugal
From bird watchers to nature lovers alike, many people make their way to Castro Marim every year because they can get up close and personal to nature. Since the town is known for its salt, you can also witness just how the locals have been harvesting the salt from in and around the estuary for centuries.
At the top of the small hill which guards the town, you will find the castle and a fortress which was built to protect the Guadiana River and all who sail up it. The São Sebastião fort was built in the 17th century by the moors, but the castle can be dated back much further into the past. It is considered to be one of the oldest places to be settled in the entire region and today there are many artifacts that have been unearthed that can attest to this fact.
During the Arabian occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, Castro Marim played a crucial role in not only defending the incoming attacks from the Arabs, but also in taking back control of the region by the Christians. King Dinis proclaimed at this time, that Castro Marim was to be the seat of the Order of Christ. The Order of Christ was a religious military unit that was to replace the Knights Templar shortly after the start of the 14th century.
Every year in August, Castro Marim is home to an annual Medieval Fair which attracts visitors from all over Europe and the world. The town comes alive during this four-day event where one can find minstrels and jugglers on the streets and jousters in the castle. In July of ever year, the town holds an annual Handicraft Fair which sports a large selection of crafts that have been made the same way for centuries by the locals.
But no matter what time of year you choose to visit Castro Marim, you are bound to find something to keep you busy in and around this beautiful Portuguese resort town.