Vila real de Santa Antonio
Vila Real de Santo António is situated on the Rio Guadiana, which is the river that divides the Algarve from Spain. If you stand on the far eastern edge of Vila Real you can easily see the Spanish coastline and the bridge over the river that connects the town to Ayamonte in Spain.
The bridge was built in the early 1990s and has made a big difference to the congestion in and around the town because people can now drive straight there instead of waiting for a ferry.
At the end of the 19th century the town was a major canning centre for sardines and tuna, and the port was busy with the ships that sailed the Guadiana. It was also the first place in the Algarve to have gas lighting (1886). It is still a thriving community based on fishing, agriculture and tourism.
Vila Real has a large town square, ‘Praça Marquês de Pombal’, which is edged with orange trees and populated with low white buildings, shops, cafes and restaurants. Just behind the square there is a space called the Centro Cultural António Aleixo, which used to be the old market. Today it is used for temporary exhibits and events. There is also a museum, Museu de Manuel Cabanas, where you can go to see the works of a local painter and wood engraver.