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Vila Real De Santo Antonio Travel Guide

Vila Real de Santo Antonio
Vila Real de Santo Antonio

The unusual resort town of Vila Real de Santo Antonio, 53 miles (85km) east of Faro, is neatly designed on a geometric grid system, radiating out from the central square, the Praca Marques de Pombal, with its dramatic paved radial mosaic floor and central obelisk, edged with orange trees. The town is on the west bank of the River Guardiana, facing Ayamonte, Spain, which is on the east bank.

Back in the 17th century, the original town was inundated by the sea and was rebuilt by the Marques de Pombal, who had rebuilt Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake. The reconstruction was completed in just five months, leaving a tidy town with streets lined by elegant 18th century townhouses and a long esplanade along the riverbank where strollers on holiday can enjoy an impressive view across to neighbouring Spain. The Manuel Cabanas Museum in town is a popular attraction, as is Castro Marim, which boasts the fort of São Sebastião, and two ancient castles on its massive hilltop just 1.86 miles (3km) from town. A car ferry connects to Spain.