Vila Real de Santo António
Vila Real de Santo Antonio is a Portuguese city of Faro district, region of the Algarve, situated in the end o Ria Formosa Natural Park with around 10 500 inhabitants.
It is home to a small municipality with 57.53 kilometers ² and 17 956 inhabitants (2001), divided into 3 parishes. It is one of the few municipalities in Portugal territorially discontinuous (the others are Montijo, Castro Daire and Soure), divided in the western, the town of Vila Nova de Cacela, and an eastern portion, where the city lies is Monte Gordo . The eastern part is bordered to the north and west by the municipality of Castro Marim, on the east by the Guadiana River, which defines the border with Spain, the municipality of Ayamonte and the south coast is the Atlantic Ocean, the western part is bordered to the north and east by Castro Marim, Tavira to the west and south coast is the Atlantic Ocean.
This strategic area at the mouth of the Guadiana river was probably used by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians many years before the birth of Christ.
But the modern Vila Real de Santo Antonio is designed and built in the eighteenth century, under the directions of the powerful Marquês de Pombal, who wanted to make it a fishing port model.
The Pombal style is visible in the urban archtecture, and particulary, in the main square, named in honor of its founder.
Today, the town is a tourist and commercial center, especially for its location near the border of
Spain, only the Guadiana river separates the province of Andalusia.
For a long time, ferries carrying passengers and vehicles from Vila Real to the Spanish town of Ayamonte, but now almost all the traffic is done by a bridge built a few years ago, and there are no border controls.
Cancela Velha is a small village of fishermen's houses perched on a cliff overlooking the sea, quiet
and unspoilt by tourism.
In contrast, Monte Gordo is a holiday resort popular with a crowd of visitors at Easter and summer to look for its restaurants, bars and small casino.
It has a huge expanse of beach, a bay of warm waters that also bordered the vast dunes of Manta Rota, Praia Verde and Alagoas.