Tavira is one of the most charming towns in the Algarve, and is a wonderful destination for your holiday.
It straddles the Gilão River, which reaches the sea through the inlets and lagoons of Ria Formosa Natural Park. Tavira Island has a long, sandy beach, plus salt pans that attract flamingos, spoonbills and other wading birds. In the center, medieval Tavira Castle has city views. The Santa María do Castelo Church houses the tombs of 7 knights killed by the Moors.
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 harbours and a regular urban structure. Phoenician Tavira existed until the end of 6th century BC, when it was destroyed by conflict.
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 a 12th Century Moorish bridge.
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.
In the 18th century, the port on its river was of considerable importance, shipping produce such as salt, dried fish and wine.
The city has been rebuilt since the earthquake of 1755 with many fine 18th-century buildings along with its 37 churches.