Alcoutim Alcoutim, Eastern Algarve, Portugal

Hidden up the River Guardiana...





See our rental accommodation south of Alcoutim

A surprising thing you may notice in Alcoutim is that the river may be flowing away from - not to - the sea, as the Guardiana is tidal to this point and as far as Mértola in the Alentejo. You can try a quick fling on the river by taking the little ferry to St. Luca de Guardiana in Spain on the other side. In Alcoutim, visit the castle, which has a small archeological museum in it. Buying a ticket to this also buys you entry to other museums and attractions further down the river towards the coast. Outside the town there is also an old Moorish castle as well as bronze age monuments. The town is also the administrative centre for the Municipality - a large, sparsley populated hill area.

History

The hills behind Alcoutim are rich in copper, iron and manganese, and it is this has attracted people to settle in the area for the last 5000 years. Remains of Bronze age and Iron age mines, settlements and burials can be found at many sites in the hills. Alcoutim grew up as the river port which linked these mines to the sea, to the Meditterranean and to the wider world. Accordingly, the site of the present day castle has been occupied in both Iron age and Roman times. The Romans also linked Alcoutim to Lisbon by road via Mértola and Beja. Alcoutim remained a settlement through both Visigoth (5th -7th century) and Moorish (7th - 13 century)  periods and was conquered by the Portuguese in 1240. In 1304, King Dinis granted the town a charter, under the control of the Military Order of Sant'Iago, due to its strategic position on the border with Castille. The 14th Century peace treaty between Portugal and Spain was signed in the middle of the river, between Alcoutim and St. Luca de Guardiana on the Spanish side. The Castle dates from this period, though it was altered in the 17th century to accommodate modern artillery warfare. The gradual decline of the mines, the loss of the importance of the Guardiana for transport, and the poverty of the surrounding hills for agriculture, has seen Alcoutim become a lost and sleepy town, hidden up the river.



Facilities
Facility Comment
tourist office YES
ferry service YES - across the river to St Luc in Spain
post office YES
cash machine (ATM) YES
Facility Comment
food market YES - small
chemist / pharmacy YES
museum YES - in castle
castle YES



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