Alvor (Portimão)

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Alvor Riverside.JPG
Along the Alvor River
Coat of arms
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Location in Portugal
Coordinates: 37°07′48″N8°35′38″W / 37.130°N 8.594°W / 37.130; -8.594 Coordinates: 37°07′48″N8°35′38″W / 37.130°N 8.594°W / 37.130; -8.594
CountryFlag of Portugal.svg  Portugal
Region Algarve
Intermunic. comm. Algarve
District Faro
Municipality Portimão
  Total15.25 km2 (5.89 sq mi)
24 m (79 ft)
  Density400/km2 (1,000/sq mi)
Time zone WET/WEST (UTC+0/+1)
Postal code
Patron São Salvador

Alvor is a civil parish (Portuguese: freguesia ) in the municipality of Portimão, in the southern Algarve of Portugal. The population in 2011 was 6,154, [1] in an area of 15.25 km². [2]

Freguesia third level local administrative unit in Portugal

Freguesia, usually translated as "parish" or "civil parish", is the third-level administrative subdivision of Portugal, as defined by the 1976 Constitution. It is also a local administrative unit in the former Portuguese overseas territories of Cape Verde and Macau. In the past, was also an administrative division of the other Portuguese overseas territories. The parroquia in the Spanish autonomous communities of Galicia and Asturias is similar to a freguesia.

Portimão Municipality in Algarve, Portugal

Portimão is a town (cidade) and a municipality in the district of Faro, in the Algarve region of southern Portugal. The population in 2011 was 55,614, in an area of 182.06 km². It was formerly known as Vila Nova de Portimão. In 1924, it was incorporated as a cidade and became known merely as Portimão. Historically a fishing and shipbuilding centre, it has nonetheless developed into a strong tourist centre oriented along its beaches and southern coast. The two most populous towns in the Algarve are Portimão and Faro.

Algarve Region in Portugal

The Algarve is the southernmost region of continental Portugal. It has an area of 4,997 km2 (1,929 sq mi) with 451,006 permanent inhabitants, and incorporates 16 municipalities. The region has its administrative centre in the city of Faro, where both the region's international airport and public university, the University of Algarve, are located. Tourism and related activities are extensive and make up the bulk of the Algarve's summer economy. Production of food, which includes fish and other seafood, different types of fruit such as oranges, figs, plums, carob beans, and almonds, are also economically important in the region. Although Lisbon surpasses the Algarve in terms of tourism revenue, the Algarve is still, overall, considered to be the biggest and most important Portuguese tourist region, having received an estimated total of 7.1 million tourists in 2017. Its population triples in the peak holiday season due to seasonal residents. The Algarve is also increasingly sought after, mostly by central and northern Europeans, as a permanent place to settle. A 2016 American-based study concluded that the Algarve was the world's best place to retire.



A glimpse of the Castle of Alvor Castelo de Alvor.JPG
A glimpse of the Castle of Alvor
The Facho Tower and Matriz Church, medieval symbols of Alvor's history Igreja Matriz de Alvor - Torre.JPG
The Facho Tower and Matriz Church, medieval symbols of Alvor's history

Alvor was founded in 436 by the Carthaginian General Aníbal Barca as a commercial port, which he named Portus Hannibalis. [3] [4] The settlement grew around the sea, near the place called Vila Velha, where a Celtic castro dominated the river mouth during the Iron Age. [3] It is likely that it was the Roman colony of Ipses, which was authorized to mint currency, and was absorbed during the Roman era. [3]

Carthage archaeological site in Tunisia

Carthage was the center or capital city of the ancient Carthaginian civilization, on the eastern side of the Lake of Tunis in what is now the Tunis Governorate in Tunisia. Carthage was widely considered the most important trading hub of the Ancient Mediterranean and was arguably one of the most affluent cities of the Ancient World.

Castro culture archaeological culture

Castro culture is the archaeological term for the material culture of the north-western regions of the Iberian Peninsula from the end of the Bronze Age until it was subsumed by Roman culture. It is the culture associated with the Celtiberians, closely associated to the western Hallstatt horizon of Central Europe.

The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of humanity. It was preceded by the Stone Age and the Bronze Age. The concept has been mostly applied to Europe and the Ancient Near East, and, by analogy, also to other parts of the Old World.

Taken by the Moors in 716, the settlement began to be referred to as Albur, and gained an impressive castle, with only vestiges remaining. [3]

Middle Ages

This bastion was conquered on 3 June 1189, by the forces of King Sancho I of Portugal, with help from Crusader forces. [3] It was retaken two years, and definitively reconquered in 1250. [4] Rebuilt by King Denis in 1300, it served for 500 years the coastal defences against attacks by pirates and privateers until it was destroyed in 1755 by the tsunami and earthquake that devastated Lisbon. [3]

Sancho I of Portugal Koncho King of Portugal

Sancho I, nicknamed "the Populator", King of Portugal was the second but only surviving legitimate son and fifth child of Afonso I of Portugal by his wife, Maud of Savoy. Sancho succeeded his father and was crowned in Coimbra when he was 31 years old on 9 December 1185. He used the title King of Silves from 1189 until he lost the territory to Almohad control in 1191.

Denis of Portugal King of Portugal

Denis, called the Farmer King and the Poet King, was King of Portugal. The eldest son of Afonso III of Portugal by his second wife, Beatrice of Castile, and grandson of king Alfonso X of Castile, Denis succeeded his father in 1279. His marriage to Elizabeth of Aragon, who was later canonised as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, was arranged in 1281 when she was 10 years old.

By royal decree of Afonso V, dated 22 May 1469, it was raised to the status of Countship, under the seigneurial title bestowed to Afonso, Count of Faro. [3] But, this title did not extend beyond this period, as the Count of Faro was implicated in a conspiracy against John II of Portugal (in 1483-84), and it reverted to the Crown. [3]

Afonso V of Portugal King of Portugal and the Algarves

Afonso V, called the African, was King of Portugal. His sobriquet refers to his conquests in Northern Africa.

Count of Faro

Count of Faro was a Portuguese title of nobility granted by royal decree issued on 22 May 1469, by King Afonso V of Portugal, to D. Afonso of Braganza, the third son of Fernando I, Duke of Braganza.

John II of Portugal Portuguese king

John II, called the Perfect Prince, was King of Portugal from 1481 until his death in 1495, and also for a brief time in 1477. He is known for re-establishing the power of the Portuguese monarchy, reinvigorating the Portuguese economy, and renewing his country's exploration of Africa and the Orient.

During the reign of John II, Alvor continued to receive patronage, the king dying on 25 October 1495 in the palace of Álvaro de Ataíde after catching a chill in Monchique (the residence, which was situated on Rua do Poço, was located near the supposed hydrothermal springs of Caldas de Monchique). [3] [4]

The Prince Regent ordered, in the name of Manuel of Portugal, the elevation of Alvor to vila (town) on 28 February 1495, which was confirmed in a secondary diploma on 28 December 1498. [3]

In the closing decades of the 15th century Alvor was a centre of the Jewish community in Portugal.


King Sebastian visited the municipality on 27 January 1573, staying on the 24-25 in Alvor, where he visited the houses (now in ruins) where in 1495 King John II died. [3] At that time the alcaide already pertained to the Count of Odemira. [3] The first foral was issued during the reign of Philip II of Spain during the Iberian Union on 13 December 1585. [3] Friar João de São José declared, in 1577, that Alvor was a transit port for fully loaded ships (carracks and battleships), while Fernandes Serrão (around 1606) referred to settlement of 240 homes, a heavily defended by its fort, that helped to serve a local fishing fleet and local exports. [3] There is also mention of the localities of Montes de Baixo and Montes de Cima, colloquially known as the Freires since there were a preponderance of residents from that family living in the region. [3]

The Matriz Church was constructed in the early part of the 16th century by Ataide family, alcades of the vila, donatorios with many privileges and lands (it was likely Álvaro de Ataide's son who initiated the construction of the church in 1497). [3] In 1652 the Santa Casa da Misericórdia was first erected in the community. [3] By royal charter, issued by Peter II, the vila of Alvor was once again raised to Countship (4 February 1683) under Francisco de Távora, a nobleman who occupied several official duties and distinguished himself during the Battle of Montes Claros. [3] The title was later passed on to Bernardo de Távora, and then Luís Bernardo de Távora, eventually extinguished after the Távora affair. [3] The parish and the Távora assets were incorporated in the House of the Queens (Portuguese: Casa das Rainhas until 1773, when these were integrated into the parish when it was annexed into the municipality of Portimão. [3]

Although the 1755 earthquake (1 November) resulted in the death of only one person, it was responsible for the destruction of homes, the fort, the Facho tower, and the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Ajuda, [5] in addition to altering the river's course. [3] Its effects also resulted in the decrease of the local population by 1000 residents; by 1900 the population included less than 3014 souls, owing to the effects of the earthquake. [3]


On 14 April 1988 the village once again attained the title of vila, under decree 42/88, owing to the economic, cultural and social development. [3]


Alvor port.jpg
A panoramic landscape of the Alvor River in the parish of Alvor

The parish of Alvor is located along the southern coast of Portimão surrounded by its municipal neighbours Mexilhoeira Grande and Portimão, and the municipality of Lagos (parish of Odiáxere).

The Ria de Alvor (Alvor Estuary) is located between the towns of Lagos and Portimão. Covering 1700 hectares it includes a diverse mix of habitats of brushwood, forest and agricultural land, comprising the estuary, dunes, marshes and salt-pans, and also the Quinta da Rocha and Abicada peninsula. [6] Ria de Alvor was included in the Natura 2000 network of sites, due to the presence of species and habitats considered worthy of protection at the European level. [7]

The Natura 2000 network recognizes the need for protection of the following:


The Church of the Divine Saviour, a Manueline and Rococo era parochial church constructed in the 16th century Igreja matriz do Divino Salvador Alvor 604.jpg
The Church of the Divine Saviour, a Manueline and Rococo era parochial church constructed in the 16th century




In addition to the temples listed here, the civil parish of Alvor is home to three hermitage-like mosques, or morábito, that include the Morábito de São João, Morábito de São Pedro, and the Morábito anexo à sacristia da Igreja Matriz. All were constructed in the Manueline-era, and show decorative influences from the period, including specifically the doorjamb elements.

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  1. Instituto Nacional de Estatística
  2. "Áreas das freguesias, concelhos, distritos e país". Archived from the original on 2018-11-05. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 Sampaio, José Rosa (2011). Junta Freguesia (ed.). "Resenha Histórica da Freguesia de Alvor". Alvor (Portimão), Portugal: Junta Freguesia de Alvor. Archived from the original on 2011-08-18.
  4. 1 2 3 David J. J. Evans (2004), p.470
  5. F. Tedim Pedrosa and J. Goncalves (2008) p. 60–61
  6. Grupo de Acompanhamento da Ria de Alvor, ed. (2012). "Ria de Alvor". Alvor (Portimão), Portugal: Grupo de Acompanhamento da Ria de Alvor. Archived from the original on 19 June 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  7. Biodiversity in Algarve
  8. A rocha, ed. (2012). "Ria de Alvor". Alvor (Portimão), Portugal: A Rocha. Retrieved 11 July 2012.