Vila Real de Santo Antonio is the perfect city in the Algarve to explore on a day trip. The city centre of Vila Real is a great place to stroll. Here you will find restaurants and bars where you can sit and have a drink.
Introducing Vila Real de Santo Antonio
Vila Real de Santo Antonio is a Portuguese town on the eastern edge of the Algarve. It is a delightful Portuguese town on the mighty Rio Guadiana on the eastern edge of Portugal. It has a peaceful, cosy ambience and a unique appearance that resembles Lisbon more than its nearest neighbours, with a large central square and decorative, ostentatious architecture.
Vila Real de Santo Antonio is a small city on the Portuguese side of the River Guadiana near the Portuguese-Spanish border. There are few restaurants in the city center, but it is still a small, picturesque town and one of the most picturesque and worth a visit. Vila Real de Santos Antonio is located on a small river that separates Portugal from Spain.
It is not a big resort, but it attracts a lot of people from Spain. Walking in Vila Real de Santo Antonio, one sees the Spanish city of Ayamonte on the other side of the river Guadiana, which separates Portugal and Spain. A nice way to travel between the two cities and countries is the four-lane suspension bridge from 1990, which crosses the river for a few kilometres.
It is unique in that its streets are designed in a grid pattern. The most striking feature of the border town of Vila Real de Santo Antonio is the grid system on which it is built. The curves of its street corners are precise and 90 degrees.
Vila Real de Santo Antonio is one of the most densely populated communities in the Algarve with a population density well above the national average. Vila Nova Cacela is a rare exclave in Portugal, where it is separated from the other two civic parishes by the parish of Altura do Castro Marim, which includes the parish of Castro Marims and separates the civic parish from the rest of Portugal. The municipality of Monte Gordo comprises the coastal town and the tourist resort of Montes Gordos, less than three kilometres from Vila Real and separated by a large area of woodland.
History of Vila Real de Santo Antonio
It is no coincidence that the city centre bears only a passing resemblance to Lisbon’s Baixa, designed by the same man in the same circumstances. Vila Real de Santo Antonio, built by a man who went into hiding after the infamous earthquake of 1755, is a wonder of 18th century urban planning. It was founded by royal decree in rational style, with a precise matrix of streets grouped around a noble square.
The reason for this location was the need for a city on the Guadiana River, which separated south-eastern Portugal from Spain since the 13th century. The two countries did not get along, and the fortresses and castles around Vila Real de Santo Antonio recall a tense time. In the 16th century, there was a seaside town in Arenilha known as Vila de Santos Antonio.
In the eighteenth century there was another town known as Vila de Santo Antonio de Arenilha, but the sea disappeared after it was submerged in sand. Vila Real de Santos Antonio is located in the Algarve, about 50 km south of Faro and 20 km north of Tavira, on the border with Spain in the form of the Guadiana River. It has a population of about 20,000 inhabitants and is the main transit point between Spain and Portugal along the southern Mediterranean coast, where the 666-metre-long “Guadiana International Bridge” was constructed in 1991.
Praca de Marques de Pombal
The beautiful square, called Praca de Marques de Pombal, is named after the Marques de Pombals, who were founded by the Vila Real de Santos Antonio after the earthquake of 1755. The square consists of a typical black and white patterned line surrounded by obelisks. The city was a modern settlement that was rebuilt in 1774 after the earthquake of 1755 and the tsunami at the Marques de Pombal.
Visiting the Beach
The nearest tourist beach is Monte Gordo, a resort popular with Spanish holidaymakers, located a few kilometers from the center. It is possible to reach the modern resort of Montes Gordos at the mouth of the Guadiana River on foot. An alternative walk through the cool Mata Nacional da Dunas Litorais (pine forest) leads to the secluded beaches of Vila Real.
Taking the Ferry to Spain
The best and most unique activity in Vila Real is taking the ferry across the Guadiana River to Ayamonte in Spain. You can take the ferry between Vila Real de Santo Antonio and Ayamonte, or drive across the bridge. Vila Real’s location in Spain is ideal for those who wish to visit Spain and Portugal in one trip.
The ferry across the Guadiana River to Ayamonte in Spain is as wide as a car and since 1994 the only way to cross the river. For years, crossing the border between the town of Vila Real de Santo Antonio and the main route between the Algarve and Spain has been a 20-minute ferry ride that takes visitors in and out. The ferry crosses the river and offers wonderful views of the city and surrounding countryside.
Vila Real de Santo Antonio is a town (19,00 as of 2011) in the Algarve region of Portugal. It is located on the eastern bank of the river Guadiana, which forms the border with Spain. The city has 20,000 inhabitants and is located on the border of the river that separates Portugal and Spain. During an earthquake in 1755, towns along the border between Spain and Portugal were severely damaged.
If you enjoyed this article you might also like to read about Algarve Itinerary