Sights to see in the Algarve: Cacela Velha

By admin | | Posted in: Pine Cliffs

Welcome to our series of blog posts on sights to see in the Algarve. In our previous posts, we’ve outlined the major regions in the Algarve and gave you a broad overview of what not to miss while in the area so you can plan your perfect holiday. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the enchanting village of Cacela Velha, which, though small, is packed full of history and charm. This idyllic village sits within a stretch of outstanding natural beauty, and is the perfect place for travellers to explore to get the most out of Portugal’s rich history.

Located about fourteen kilometres east of Tavira, Calela Velha’s picturesque white cottages sit neatly above the beautiful azure blue of the Atlantic. Featuring gardens ablaze with colour in spring and summer and groves of orange trees, this village seems to have been lifted from a story book, its cobbled streets untouched by urban overdevelopment. Visitors can enjoy authentic Portuguese cuisine at one of the village’s cafes or restaurants — including the one at the newly opened, five-star hotel, the Quinta da Ria, and explore the beautiful whitewashed church. Visitors can also view the remains of an eighteenth-century fort that once stood guard against invaders. Partially destroyed in 1755 by an earthquake and tsunami, the fort has since been rebuilt and is today used to house the local police station.

This picturesque village captures the imagination, seemingly unchanged throughout the centuries since it was originally founded over a thousand years ago by the Moors and Berbers who arrived from North Africa. Recent archeological excavations have revealed that in the tenth century the town was known as Ibn Darradj al-Qastalli, and was likely an agricultural centre in the region.

Today, Cacela Velha offers a few major cultural events throughout the year, the largest of which is the annual Noites da Moura Encantada (Nights of the Enchanted Moor Woman), a four-day event that honours the region’s Moorish and Berber history through music, dancing, street fairs and exhibitions. Other events include the annual Clássica em Cacela, a concert series celebrating medieval and contemporary classical music, and various art exhibitions throughout the year.

Visitors can also take a boat from Fábrica to Cacela Velha’s splendid island beach, which is host to a lively LGBT scene in the warm summer evenings, or spend a day playing golf at the excellent courses nearby. Other excellent nearby beaches include Altura beach and Praia Verde. Those who want to further explore the area’s villages should be sure to visit Castro Marim and Monte Gordo, both of which are close to Cacela Velha and easily reached.