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Castro Marim



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Lying between two low hills, Castro Marim, now a peaceful little town, was during centuries of great importance due to its strategic location, as it commands the view over the estuary of the river Guadiana which separates Algarve from Spain.

The Romans used it, then the Arabs, and when they were expelled from Portugal but not from Spain, Castro Marim played an important role between the kingdoms at war. It was also a place of refuge for those fleeing from the Inquisition in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The castle dominating the town is of Moorish origin and includes a round tower at each corner of a square. Later it was expanded and another castle was built around it.

In the 17th century, a new fortification was built on the other side of the village, Fort of Saint Sebastian, in order to strengthen the defences after Portugal freed itself from 60 years of Spanish rule.

Castro Marim was once a center for salt production and the surrounding area, with its salt-pans and marshes, has been declared a protected natural reserve.

The Reserva Natural do Sapal has a large variety of plants, but it is specially known for the rich birdlife, including black-winged stilts, white storks, flamingos, avocets and other species.

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