Explore 7 places not to be missed in the historic village of Castro Marim! Here you will find several points of interest that will amaze you.
Castro Marim has an important historical and cultural heritage, excellent cuisine and interesting handicrafts. Additionally, in its centre it’s possible to see amazing historic buildings, as well as Algarve’s white houses with its well-preserved ‘platibandas’ (a decorated small wall in the highest part of the façade) and typical chimneys.
Now let’s go and find out what are its best spots!
Brief Castro Marim Historical Framework
Castro Marim is located on a hill overlooking the Guadiana River, the Sapal de Castro Marim e Vila Real de Santo António Nature Reserve (which is a beautiful natural reserve with the uniqueness of having salterns), in a place that is thought that in the past was an island.
Various peoples passed through here, such as Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Vandals, Romans and Arabs and therefore leaving their marks.
Castro Marim owes its name to having been (before the Romans) a ‘castro’ (a hillfort), like several others that existed in the country, where the population protected itself. But this was different, it was Marim, which means “maritime”. It was a castro at sea, which defended the access to the Guadiana River.
Castro Marim was an island in the middle Guadiana River estuary and ceased to be with its silting. Then the hill became surrounded by marshes (marshland). Later, part of these were transformed into salterns.
At the highest point is located the Castro Marim Castle. This Castle with other fortifications, was in the past, one of the most solid defensive systems of the Kingdom of Portugal and the Algarves – which existed until 1910!
As you can see in the aerial view, on the other side of the river is Spain. For this reason, it is also the land of brave and courageous people who in the past defended the Portuguese border.
MAP OF CASTRO MARIM VILLAGE
The numbers (#) on the Map and in the Text identify the places to visit:
Visit Castro Marim Castle
(1) On the top of a hill is the Castro Marim Castle, that is classified as a national monument. Having been built in the 13th century, as a defensive stronghold of the border.
Did you know that, in the 14th century, the Castle served as the 1st seat of the Order of Christ?
Over time and due to the increase in population, the Outer Bailey of the Old Castle was built. Later, in the 16th century, the village grew outside these walls. As a result, the castle has undergone various transformations, in the course of centuries.
If you don’t suffer from vertigo, you can stroll along the walls to enjoy the impressive view, namely: to the Sapal de Castro Marim e Vila Real de Santo António Nature Reserve, the Bridge, the Guadiana River and the Spanish border.
As you get through the entrance door of the Outer Bailey, you can see the old Misericórdia Church (Igreja da Misericórdia) in the square, which has a permanent exhibition on the 1st headquarters of the Order of Christ (located in Castro Marim).
After taking Rua São Tiago (or Rua Direita) you’ll arrive at a large yard, with a military warehouse building and the Castelo Velho (Old Castle).
Castelo Velho (OLD CASTLE)
Inside the ancient Castelo Velho it is possible to see what remains of the house of the mayor (or commander), the cistern, the prison and the castle museum centre (Núcleo Museológico do Castelo). Here are exhibited mainly pieces collected from archaeological excavations on the hill of the Castle, which shows the occupancy of this territory over time by several cultures.
Nearby is the Sea Gate (Porta do Mar which is currently closed), that previously gave access to the eastern area towards the Guadiana River.
Dias Medievais in Castro Marim Festival
The Castle is the centre of the “Dias Medievais em Castro Marim” Festival, which usually takes place in August. Thus, for several days, one can witness an interesting historical recreation of the Medieval Period, with various cultural and artistic activities.
Go up to Forte de São Sebastião (Castro Marim)
(2) On the other hill of the village is the Forte de São Sebastião, which was built in the 17th century, in the context of the Restoration War against Spain.
In this place there was a chapel, in which part of its building can still be seen, integrated in the structure of the Fort.
The Forte de São Sebastião, with five bastions, was connected by walls to the Castro Marim Castle. Together, this Fort, the Castle and Revelim de Santo António were the main defensive system in the Algarve.
Not too long ago the Fort had requalification works, pending some works so that it can be opened to public visits. However, it can be visited in an organized way by requesting the City Council or when the “Dias Medievais em Castro Marim” Festival is held.
Explore Colina de Santo António
(3) In the east area of the village, and in a place with a 360º view of the surrounding landscape, is the Colina (Hill in English) de Santo António.
On this hill is located the Revelim de Santo António, the Ermida de Santo António, the Interpretation Center of the Territory of Castro Marim and a Mill. In addition, there is also an open-air amphitheater, an Andalusian-inspired garden and spaces with traditional vegetable gardens.
REVELIM de Santo António
Revelim de Santo António is a small fortification, located in a strategic place at the entrance of the village and that had a connection with the Castle and the Forte de São Sebastião.
This Revelim was built in the 17th century by D. João IV. In the shape of a horseshoe, it had 14 cannons aimed at the Guadiana River estuary, to control the navigation and the crossing of the river.
capela de SANTO ANTÓNIO
The small Capela (Chapel) de Santo António, in Baroque style, with a quadrangular chancel, is bounded by strong cornerstones.
Castro Marim Territory Interpretation Center
The Castro Marim Territory Interpretation Center provides information on cultural routes and visits to the municipality.
In addition to being a natural viewpoint, this Interpretation Center also has an interesting virtual viewpoint of the municipality. It has the historical, natural and knowledge aspects and it’s an interactive 3D map, jointly with a video.
At the top, a beautiful windmill dominates the horizon, whose operation still uses original techniques.
Bicycle path IN CASTRO MARIM
From the base of the Hill of Santo António begins the bicycle path, which we got on between Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António. Along the cycle path, it’s possible to see flora and iconic birds of the Sapal de Castro Marim e Vila Real de Santo António Nature Reserve, such as flamingos and black-winged stilts.
Discover Casa do Sal (Castro Marim)
(4) Located in the centre of the village, in a beautiful building of traditional architecture, which was previously a salt warehouse, is Casa do Sal (which means House of the Salt).
Casa do Sal is an important centre to promote the culture of the municipality, as well as enhancing saline activity in the municipality. Note that due to their great quality, the Salt and Fleur de Sel of Castro Marim have Designation of Origin.
At Casa do Sal, exhibitions, thematic meetings and other events are held. It has a bar, as well as an outdoor area for events. Here you can see interesting mural paintings, which depict real people from Castro Marim related to the extraction of salt.
In this multicultural space we had the opportunity to visit an interesting temporary exhibition on the saddlebags, which are a kind of large bag divided into two compartments.
The saddlebags were woven on looms and could be made of wool, linen or cotton, as well as having different patterns, designs and symbols.
The saddlebag was worn on the shoulder by men and on the back of pack animals (horses and donkeys). There were work bags, which were used to carry mainly agricultural products. And there were also festive bags, which were adorned in a more complex way and with more noble materials. Indeed, saddlebags were widely used in Portugal and Spain.
Know the Local Market
(5) Opened in the mid-20th century, the Local Market was the main supplier of fruits, vegetables and fish in the village of Castro Marim.
Today, the Local Market is an interesting space that promotes traditional arts, knowledge and skills (pottery, basketry, tinwork and others) and where you can also buy local products and crafts.
At the same time, the Local Market hosts the Information Desk of the Algarve Tourism Region, promoting the Municipality of Castro Marim and the Algarve Region.
Appreciate the Mother Church
(6) Overlooking Praça 1º de Maio, there is the Igreja Matriz (or Nossa Senhora dos Mártires), built after the earthquake of 1755 in the place where there was previously a chapel.
The church has a single nave, a bell tower and a round clock on the main façade. Above all, it stands out for the huge white and blue-gray dome with eight windows (over the dome). On the side, the galilee has an interesting panel of blue and white tiles.
Stroll the streets of the Historic Centre
(7) In the centre of the village, for example in Praça 1º de Maio, you can find several historic buildings, such as the Paços do concelho (Town Hall), where the Castro Marim Municipality is based.
In addition, you can also see white houses with ‘platibandas’, typical Algarve chimneys and some with roof terraces.
The ‘platibanda’ is an important feature of the traditional architecture of the Algarve. It’s a kind of a wall built on the facade, in the shape of a frame, which served to hide the roof and above all to decorate the houses with colors and geometric shapes.
These platibandas were a way of flaunting the wealth of their owners, so it was an extra incentive to be richly decorated.
At the end of Praça 1º de Maio, turning to the right and heading towards the Castle, you can see a part of the recovered wall.
Restaurants and Bars in Castro Marim Village
In the village of Castro Marim there are some options to have a meal or a drink, such as:
A Tasca Medieval restaurant
The interior of the restaurant A Tasca Medieval has rustic details. We chose to have a meal on the outside patio, under a small shed, with some vines on the side.
As a starter, we tried a “mixed assortment” of fresh and dried Alentejo goat and sheep cheese.
The main dishes were tuna steak with onions, fries and tomato and lettuce salad and grilled sea bass with boiled potatoes and broccoli. Everything was so fresh!
We drank the white Eira wine, from Herdade de São Miguel (in Redondo village), also fresh!
The dessert was very sweet, as it’s suppose to be: a slice of “Santa Maria” (almond tart with orange pudding). The bitter almond liqueur was the perfect ending of this meal!
Tasca Medieval is a family business, which presented good quality and well-prepared food. The service was careful, and Gonçalo was very friendly. It is certainly a place we recommend!
Taberna Medieval Velho Cavalinho
The Taberna Medieval Velho Cavalinho is a space for events, which takes us to the medieval period with decoration and atmosphere related to the theme.
There are several cultural activities here, where you can, for example, participate in a medieval banquet with live music, attend concerts and poetry recitation, animation and theater, etc … In addition, it is also possible to buy medieval costumes and accessories.
On the second Saturday of each month, also in this Tavern, the ‘smallest medieval fair in the world’ is held.
Accommodation in Castro Marim
A Companhia das Culturas
In São Bartolomeu (5 km from Castro Marim) is Companhia das Culturas. This Ecotourism is located in an agricultural property of 40 hectares, which has existed in the family for 5 generations. This farm produces organic agriculture, with a garden and orchards, from which is obtained carob, apricots, figs, olives, oranges and others.
The agricultural facilities were restored and led to 8 rooms and 4 apartments. The latter are on the other side of the property, next to the garden, the 2nd swimming pool and the Haman, where Turkish baths and massages with biological products are done.
Among others, it also contains a Lounge and Library (with children’s games) in an old oil press room, where you can see tools used here (with a curious clay pot embedded in the floor). All spaces were beautifully decorated.
Companhia das Culturas tries to be as sustainable, regional and local as possible. It is a lively and dynamic project.
Our stay at Companhia das Culturas was great, in a calm and clean place. The surrounding area is amazing, we can go around the farm, for a walk, jog, or even use the scattered tables to have a picnic.
Breakfast was excellent, taken on the outdoor terrace, overlooking the trees. The products were tasty, almost exclusively produced at the time, with emphasis on scrambled eggs from the chicken coop, vegetables from the garden and figs, jams and fruit juice from the orchard.
The owner Eglantina and Elisabete (from the staff) were helpful and attentive. We highly recommend!
Other accommodations suggestions
During our stay in Castro Marim, Quinta da Fornalha was also recommended to us by several people.
Places to visit near Castro Marim
Visit SalMarim Salt Pan
Going to Salmarim salt pans in Castro Marim is, above all, a charming experience.
In addition to getting to know how the Fleur de sel and the Salt of Castro Marim are extracted, we get the experience of meeting friends, sharing experiences, knowledge and flavors, since one of the owners, Jorge Raiado is a good communicator.
First, we began at the end, that is, by the harvest of the precious Fleur de sel from the salt pan. It’s very interesting to have the opportunity to do this job. Seeing isn’t learning… Doing is learning!
Afterwards, the whole process is explained. There is a labyrinthine structure, in which the salt water comes from a creek, passes to the tanks and then goes to compartments. But above all, there made us aware that this handicraft is an art!
Castro Marim’s existing conditions are exceptional for the extraction of a high quality product!
Due to the fact that this is in a nature reserve, the presence of birds and other animals are very much in evidence.
Finally, in the tasting session you can clearly see the difference in the taste of these products compared to the industrial ones and how much better they do to our health.
Relax at Spa Salino
The SPA Salino in Castro Marim has a completely different concept, far from mass tourism! Specially since the activities take place outdoors.
First, it is located in a salt pan and it is even possible to take a guided tour of Barquinha salt pan and understand the process of harvesting the Fleur du Sel and the Traditional Salt of Castro Marim.
The experience involves making a body wrap of saline clay. This clays are rich in minerals and sulfur, and when it dries, it extracts toxins from the skin. This part of the experience can be done on the various lounge chairs around the salt water tanks.
Then the next experience, that is super relaxing, is of making a floating mineral bath in the salt pan. Here the water contains more than 80 mineral salts and is hotter than sea water. The high concentration of salt makes us float.
Finally, a refreshing shower is taken.
You can also enjoy massages (with Fleur du Sel exfoliation) and relaxation activities.
In the lounge you can rest in the shade and enjoy the Nature Reserve scenery, since is where the SPA Salino is located.
Theere you can buy Castro Marim Salt and Fleur du Sel, harvested on the spot, by the company Água Mãe.
Experience the thrill of flying on board of a gyrocopter
For the more adventurous and who like to see the world like birds do, in Castro Marim you can make an unforgettable experience on SkyXpedition’s Gyrocopter.
The concept is very funny, as this equipment flies at a slower speed and at a lower altitude than the others, allowing you to see the landscape in a different and interesting way.
The view from up there is dazzling.
In the middle of the Sapal de Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António Nature Reserve and very close to the sea, the National Forest and the Ria Formosa Nature Park, the beauty of the natural landscape stands out in a stunning way.
Enjoy Castro Marim beaches
On the Atlantic Ocean, Castro Marim Beaches are among the most beautiful in the Algarve. Praia Verde, Praia da Alagoa (Altura) and Praia do Cabeço (Retur) are extensive beaches with fine white sand.
With a sea as far as the eye can see, the waters are calm, crystal clear and usually have the warmest water in Portugal, much of the year. These beaches are accessed from the National Road 125, passing through natural areas of dunes, pine forest and marshland.
Praia Verde is surrounded by a green forest of stone pines (from which it has taken its name), since ‘Verde’ means green, is an extensive beach, with calm and mild waters.
Access the beach, by leaving the car at the tourist resort and then go down a pedestrian Portuguese cobbled path to the sand.
The beach has several facilities (restaurants, bathroom, sun shade rental) and is guarded during the bathing season.
Enjoy the sunset at the Guarita Terrace (Praia Verde)
At the Guarita Terrace located at the top of Praia Verde, it is possible to enjoy a breathtaking view over the sea, the surrounding beaches and the green of the trees.
Restaurante Panorâmico Infante (Praia Verde)
The Restaurante Panorâmico Infante has a modern and sophisticated look, with some round tables (to bring family and friends together).
From the tables on the terrace you can see the horizon with the sea and the beaches from Tavira Island to Vila Real de Santo António. At night you can see the light from the lighthouse of Vila Real de Santo António and the lights from the villages along the Ria Formosa.
Alagoa Beach (ALTURA)
Alagoa Beach is close to the village of Altura, which is why it’s also called Altura Beach. The walkways will take you through the dunes to the beach. The beach is extensive and the sea is calm.
The beach has several facilities (restaurants, bathroom, sun shade rental) and is guarded during the bathing season.
Cabeço Beach (Retur)
Cabeço Beach is reached by crossing a tourist village (which gave another name to the beach, Retur Beach), where at the end you can park your car, next to the pine forest.
Along the way you have to cross a pine forest with other trees and shrubs (like strawberry trees and mastic trees), and closer to the beach you’ll find maritime pine trees.
Praia do Cabeço is an extensive beach with white sands and calm sea, with support facilities and guarded during the bathing season.
SAPAL DE CASTRO MARIM E VILA REAL DE SANTO ANTÓNIO nature reserve
To admire the preserved and beautiful landscape and be in touch with nature you can visit the Sapal de Castro Marim e Vila Real de Santo António Nature Reserve.
Located near the mouth of the Guadiana River, this Nature Park is a wetland with marshes, salt pans and creeks, covering about 2,000 hectares. This protected area with swamps, marshes and mazes of creeks and salt pans has flora adapted to the high salinity of the water.
Birdwatching in Castro Marim
This is a good spot for birdwhatching, as you can see countless animals, mainly water birds that live here, reproduce or seek shelter.
Here you can see flamingos, that give a pink tone to the beautiful landscapes, stilts and pied avocets. This Nature Reserve is also a place for the reproduction of fish and crustaceans.
visit Odeleite, a mountain village
The village of Odeleite, that belongs to the municipality of Castro Marim, is located on a hillside and arranged in the shape of an amphitheater. Its urban nucleus is quite typical, especially the Casa de Odeleite (house-museum).
Another of its many distinguishing features is the beautiful and diverse water sceneries that you can enjoy there.
discover Azinhal village
Also in the municipality of Castro Marim and very close to Odeleite, there is another very typical mountain village: Azinhal.
In this village, there are also many interesting places to discover and cool things to do, namely to visit a factory production of goat cheese with milk from a unique Algarve breed, see live the art of basketry and eat super tasty regional sweets.
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Other Places to Visit in Algarve
- Aljezur: Self-guided walking tour in Aljezur, Portugal
- Cacela Velha: Cacela Velha village: must-see Algarve gem at Ria Formosa
- Culatra Island: Culatra Island: an authentic fishermen’s island in Algarve
- Lagos: Self-guided walking tour in Lagos, Portugal
- Portimão: Self-guided walking tour in Portimão, Portugal
- How to Get to Algarve: Getting In and Getting Around
- The best beaches in Algarve, Portugal
- Best things to do in Algarve, Portugal: find our selection
|To learn more about other LikedPlaces, go to our Destinations in Portugal page.|
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