Tavira: a place to discover in the Algarve
Knowing Tavira is discovering a city full of tradition, influenced by the sea, the lovely beaches nearby and the Gibão River, with a strong Moorish heritage.
Tavira has a privileged location right on the estuary of Gibão River and harboured by a sandbank that protects the Ria Formosa lagoon. And this was the most important factor on the city’s development throughout times.
Also due to its geographical position, Tavira area attracted several people along the centuries like the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. However there were the Moors that left the most impressive print on the city by then called Tabira. After all, Moorish occupation of the “Al Garb al Andaluz” lasted for over five centuries.
The Moors domain ended in 1241 when Dom Paio Peres Correia conquered the city as a revenge for the death of seven of his knights. Then Tavira was rebuilt by king Afonso III who also gave the city a Charter, granting it the title of village.
Until the end of the 16th century, Tavira grew mainly due to the commercial activities that took place on the harbor and to the exports of salted fish, figs, almonds, salt and wine to Italy and Flanders. As Tavira harbor is the Portuguese harbor closest to Africa, it played an important strategic role on the early years of the maritime expansion. Because of this growing importance King Manuel I granted it the title of city in 1520. As in most fishing villages and cities, the religious fervor was intense in Tavira and to prove this are the many churches and convents still existing.
However the rise of the city was interrupted with the silting up of the river that prevented the navigation of the bigger ships, with the plague that rife the area in 1645/1646, as well as with the devastation caused by the earthquake and following tsunami of 1755.
During the second half of the 20th century, Tavira’s vitality suffered another stroke with the end of the tuna fishing activity. On the other hand, the 20th century marked the beginning of tourism in the area and since then Tavira is becoming more and more popular as a holidays destination.
Arriving in Tavira
The best choice for those arriving in Tavira by plane is the Faro airport. There you may hire a car and then follow Via do Infante (A22), direction Spain, until you reach your destination.