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History

Throughout history, many people lived at the site now occupied by the town of Tavira. Before the presence of the Romans, there are records that confirm the presence of Phoenicians and Greeks. But most remarkable was the presence that remained in the Islamic lands "Al Garb al Andalus" (the west of Andaluz) over five centuries (from 8th to 13th century) and, particularly, in this site had a flourishing and well-fortified population call Tabira, changing thus the original name of Talabriga.

During the Christian reconquest, started from the mountainous regions of Asturias, in the north of the Peninsula, and characterized by advances and retreats whether on the part of Christians and Muslims, Portugal is founded (12th century) and its territory is expanded to the Algarve. It is in this context that lies the conquest of Tavira from the Moors.

According to tradition, Tavira was conquered from the Moors in 1242, by Dom Paio Peres Correia, Ordem Mil de Santiago master, in retaliation for the killing of seven of their knights. The remains of the knights were deposited in the church of Santa Maria do Castelo (the old mosque), where there remains a tombstone.

After the conquest of Tavira, it was rebuilt by D. Afonso III, who in 1266 also granted the royal charter - constituent Charter of medieval councils where were fixed the rights and duties of people, how to apply justice.

Tavira grew in importance until the end of 16th century, mainly due to its harbor where several products traded and where exported salted fish, dried fruits (figs and almonds), salt and wine, fueling ports in Italy and Flanders. The geographical location of its harbor - the nearest the coast of Africa - also proved crucial and strategic in the initial period of maritime expansion. From this harbor was established the support to the Portuguese garrison in Africa as also the fleet that operated in the nearby sea. Taking also into consideration that Tavira, in the 16th century, was an influential and relevant population growing village (the most populous of the Algarve and Portugal), D. Manuel I raised it in 1520 to the category of city.

Along with all this population growth, it should be noted the Tavira religious splendor, visible, even in our days, in its 21 churches and six convents.

Several factors have caused the decline of the city, including the gradual silting up of the river and barrier, with the inevitable loss of seagoing vessels traffic. Also the effects of a devastating plague (1645/1646) and earthquakes recorded in the 18th century, especially the great earthquake of November 1, 1755.

Tavira was also an important center of tuna fisheries. This activity started in 1732, decreased during the second half the 20th century as a result of the almost total disappearance of the tuna routes along the coast.

Currently, Tavira have the tourism sector as an important factor in its economy. Tavira can offer testimonies from distant times, marks and monuments of a remarkable historical past, as also its natural factors as the Ria Formosa Natural Reserve, its mountains and beaches, the varied gastronomy which includes desserts, fish and shellfish. The historical past of this city is very rich and can be witnessed in their buildings, archaeological findings and on the historic centre streets.