Castro Marim is located 22km east of Tavira and has a population of around 6600. An historical town, Castro Marim is home to a great Medieval Festival each summer towards the end of August. There are 4 main areas:
• Altura - 1966 habitantes
• Castro Marim- 3037 habitantes
• Azinhal- 697 habitantes
• Odeleite- 925 habitantes
Castro Marim is situated between two hilltops and on each of the hilltops stands the remains of the towns fortification; Castro Marim Castle (which dates from 10th to 12th century) and Fort São Sebastião. Between these two fortresses lie the houses of the town. From the castle you can get a great view of the river, the salt pans (which are an important part of the economy of this area) and the sea in the distance.
It is still possible to see some of the traditional crafts such as lace making and basket weaving in this area of the Algarve.
Castro Marim itself still has local craftswomen making fine lace work, whereas Altura and Furnazinhas are known for their goods created from esparto and palm - like coloured mats for the home. The men of Odeleite concentrate their time making baskets from the reeds growing on the river banks.
A Little History:
Castro Marim was for 1000’s of years a safe harbour for the ships that sailed up the Guadiana River to collect metal like copper and ore which were mined further north in Alcoutim and Mertola. In addition to the river routes on which Castro Marim’s prosperity was founded, the town was also connected to Lisbon by a roman built road that ran parallel to the Guadiana River and passed through Alcoutim, Mertola and Beja.
The economy was based for centuries on fishing, salt production, agriculture and boat building.
Places of Interest:
This building which was originally a hermitage dates from the 18th & 19th centuries. It’s most striking feature is the bell tower. The main chapels and the side chapels are renowned for their statutes: Archangel Gabrielle 16th Century: Our Lady of the Incarnation & of the Martyrs 16th century & Saint Luzia.
Castro Marim Castle:
The castle which dates from 10th to12th century has 4 round corner towers and 2 entrances and was likely to have built by the Moors to protect the Portuguese coast. In 1242 the castle was taken from the Moors by Don Paio Peres Correia during the reign of King Alfonso III. After the Christians had conquered Castro Marim they rebuilt and reinforced the castle. New battlements were built around the hilltop on which the castle stood. This created a castle within a castle situation. The inner castle became known as 'Cacela Velha'