Situated on the banks of the River Guardiana facing Spain, Vila Real de Santo António is architecturally like nowhere else in the Algarve. Submerged by the sea in the 17th century, it was subsequently rebuilt by the Marquês de Pombal in just 5 months in 1774 along a grid system; the town features a perfectly rectangular street pattern reminiscent of Lisbon's downtown Baixa district.
What to see. Paved with a dramatic radial mosaic design, Vila Real de Santo António's main square - the Praça Marquês de Pombal - is surrounded by orange trees and elegant 18th-century town houses. On the eastern side of the square, the Manuel Cabanas Museum commemorates the artist whose works, especially woodcuts, were the foundation for its collection of art and ethnography. Lining the riverbank, a long esplanade on the Avenida da República offers an impressive view of Ayamonte in neighbouring Spain.
Nearby. Just 3 km north of Vila Real de Santo António is Castro Marim, dominated by its massive hilltop castle built by King Afonso III in the 13th century. Within its walls are the remains of a smaller castle, which was once the headquarters of the Order of Christ. The fort of São Sebastião nearby was built in 1641 to further defend the country against Spanish invasions

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