Tavira and it’s Island

Tavira is a Portuguese town and municipality, capital of the Costa do Acantilado, situated in the east of the Algarve on the south coast of Portugal. It is 28 kilometers (17 miles) east of Faro and 75 kilometers (47 miles) west of Huelva across the Río Grande (Rio Guadiana) into Spain. The Gilão River meets the Atlantic Ocean in Tavira. The population in 2011 was 26,167, in an area of 606.97 km².

City’s History

Bronze Age to the Roman Empire
Tavira’s origins date back to the late Bronze Age (1.000-800 BC). In the 8th century BC, it became one of the first Phoenician settlements in the Iberian West. The Phoenicians created a colonial urban center here with massive walls, at least two temples, two harbors, and a regular urban structure. Phoenician Tavira existed until the end of the 6th century BC when it was destroyed by conflict.
The Roman Empire to the Moorish Conquest

During the time of Caesar, the Romans created a new port, some 7 kilometers (4 miles) from Tavira, named Balsa. Balsa became a big town, in fact much bigger than Tavira, that grew, prospered and decayed in parallel with the Roman Empire. When the Moors conquered Iberia, in the 8th Century, Balsa was already extinct as a town.

Under Roman rule, Tavira was a secondary passing place on the important road between Balsa and Baesuris (today Castro Marim).

Moorish Rule

The Moorish occupation of Tavira between the 8th and 13th centuries left its mark on the agriculture, architecture, and culture of the area. That influence can still be seen in Tavira today with its whitewashed buildings, Moorish style doors, and rooftops. Tavira Castle, two mosques and palaces were built by the Moors. The impressive seven arched “Roman bridge” is now not considered to be Roman after a recent archaeological survey, but originates from the 12th Century Moorish bridge. This was a good time economically for Tavira, which established itself as an important port for sailors and fishermen. The area stayed rural until the 11th century when Moorish Tavira (from the Arabic Tabira, “the hidden”) started to grow rapidly, becoming one of the important (and independent) towns of the Algarve, then the South-Western extreme of Gharb al-Andalus (the West of Islamic Iberian territories).

The Reconquista

In 1242 Dom Paio Peres Correia took Tavira back from the Moors in a bloody conflict of retaliation after seven of his principal Knights were killed during a period of truce, the population of the town was decimated during this battle. Christians were now back in control of Tavira and though most Muslims left the town some remained in a Moorish quarter known as “Mouraria”.


  • Barril Beach (Praia do Barril is situated in the middle of the island of Tavira, a narrow tongue of fine white sand. In the access to the beach it is possible to carry out a pedestrian path marked with six observation stations, allowing to contemplate the environmental wealth of the Ria Formosa.)
  • Cabanas Beach (To the source of the Island of Tavira, is the Island of Cabanas, a narrow but extensive tongue of sand, before the last bar from the estuary to the source. The beach is located in front of the village of Cabanas. From the long shore of Cabanas, the artisanal fishing boats anchored in the estuary and the houses of dressing are lurking.)
  • Tavira Island Beach (The beach is located at the far end of the Island of Tavira, next to Barra do Cochico, just in front of Tavira. The path to the Four-Waters pier follows the Gilão River and the artisanal fishing fleet that circulates or rests there as well as extensive areas of salt marshes, where long-legged, small shorebirds feed.)
  • Nudist Beach (This beach is located about 1 km from the last concession of canopies of the Barril beach, to the west. It is an official naturism beach, where the beach is immense and walking towards the extreme west of the island you arrive at Man Nui Beach, a deserted and wild beach, with a magnificent view over Barra da Fuseta and Armona Island, to the west.)