Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Tavira- A Little Portuguese Jewel


The Roman Bridge

Our final destination in Portugal was a place we missed visiting by a whisker as we missed the right connection. Luckily, the disappointment did not last long as after a quick snack at our favourite Urban Bakery in Faro we headed to the tiny railway station along the coastline. It is one of the prettiest railway stations I have seen, overlooking the sea and the rail line passing over a tiny bridge. This was a compelling reason to travel to Tavira by train. There were very few people at the station and the train was to arrive in half an hour. We enjoyed the uninterrupted view of the sea from the railway platform and basked in the sun. A forty-minute train ride from Faro to Tavira is full of surprises as the lovely views of lagoons, quaint villages en route, marshes, and brooks greet the visitors. We passed by the small towns of Olahao, Quelfes, Luz, and  Santa Luz till we arrived at Tavira

Tavira is a small town on the Algarve coast nestled along the sea inlets and lagoons of the Ria Formosa natural reserve. Tavira is known for amazing beaches, salt pans that attract flamingoes and spoonbills and other wading birds. A fifteen-minute walk from the railway station through the town that resembles parts of Goa brought is to the city centre. The town was festooned with buntings, Christmas lights and decorations welcoming Santa. The first picturesque sight that greeted us was the Medieval Roman Bridge across the Gialo River, which links the two ends of the town. It is said that long before the Romans that had occupied this town hundreds of years back, the Moors who had migrated from Africa, had constructed this bridge. 

The Excavation site

The lovely town's origin date back to Phonecians who had settled here in the 8th Century. While exploring the town we came across a recently excavated site where the constructions and artefacts of the era have been excavated. 

After the 11 century, this little town grew in prominence in the region. The Moorish occupation from the 8th to 13th century BC left a mark on agriculture, architecture and culture. The influence is visible even today in form of whitewashed buildings, Moorish-style windows and rooftops of the buildings. 

Misericordia church

Much of the beauty of this place was knocked down by a terrible earthquake in 1755. 

The Clock Tower

The city was since rebuilt with some stunning edifices added to the picturesque town like around 37 churches, including the Church of Santa Maria da Castelo, and a  clock tower that was once a minaret.
Fado Com Historia

While exploring the botanical gardens and the old town and immersing in the panoramic views from the elevated old city, we came across Fado com Historia a tourist attraction next to Misericordia church. The stylish place has a capacity of around 50 people where Fado music performances are held every evening to celebrate the form of mournful tunes and lyrics about the sea or the lives of poor people which originated in the 19th century

The Gran Market Plaza

The beautiful beaches can be visited by half an hour's boat ride. The turquoise blue sea looks very inviting with boats bobbing on the crest of tiny waves of water. A walk through the Gran Plaza is a must to have a glimpse of cafes, bars vending Sangria( a popular drink), shops and curio sellers lined along. The economy of the place has greatly benefited from the rush of tourists to this town in summer.

This region produces a rich variety of fruits. It is also known for the Mel da Serra de Monchique variety of honey prepared from lavender, citrus plums etc and is used in a large variety of cakes and cookies. The sea salt, sweet potatoes and citrus fruits of this region are also well known.

A view of the setting sun at Faro lagoon

After a very satisfying day, we headed back to Tavira railway station to take the return train to Faro, We were rewarded to see the splendid view of the sun at different parts of the lagoon and finally viewing the setting sun at the Faro railway station from where we had commenced our journey. In my next post, I will take you to yet another lovely destination

PS- All pics are mine