Cacela Velha - Unspoilt Algarve
Notable as one of the last unspoiled
fishing villages still around in Algarve, Cacela Velha is
a tiny place
but lovely to look upon, and well
worth a visit if youre staying in eastern Algarve, or
even just visiting.
I had omitted it from my Barlavento
but I may have to fix that, because I believe it should be
part of any itinerary that passes through the east of this
As well as functioning as a working fishing village, the
place known as Cacela Velha has played its part in
Algarves chequered history. You can still see the fort, which stood guard on
the coast to warn of any invading forces. The edifice is now the headquarters
for the local brigade of the GNR (National Guard), and was
built on the remains of the original fort, which was
destroyed in the 1755 earthquake that devastated quite a
lot of Portugal and the Algarve.
The tiny village is quite picturesque and
seems not to have been despoiled by the ravages of
calcada streets that lead through the tiny settlement,
perched above the sea and sandbars speak of an age gone
igreja (church), the fortress walls and the traditional
style of the houses give the visitor a flavour or what
life looked like in Algarve quite some time back.
From outside the church, steps lead down
to a sandy waterfront walk, fringed by cacti and greenery. At low tide, tiny crabs scuttle
about whenever there are no human footfalls to be felt.
Across the narrow waterway can be seen the sandbar
Cacela Velha has a small footprint
as a settlement, which inevitably leads to some quaint
juxtapositions, such as the small domicile attached to the
cemetery wall, (with an apartment rental sign in the
window and some April 2007 English vacationers, if my ears
didnt deceive me!)
There are even two restaurant/bar
establishments for your delectation, both near the
generous parking facility that graces the approach to
Cacela Velha, and both offering reasonably-priced
refreshments in a lovely setting (with indoor and outdoor
tables on offer).
Cacela Velha is within the Ria Formosa
Nature Park that extends along much of Algarves eastern
seaboard, so thankfully it will not suffer from changes
that have spoiled some of the regions western reaches.
The locals are proud of their heritage,
and I saw a wall-mounted notice by a pressure group
dedicated to preserving the small harbour as it is, and
opposing European Union dictats about how it should
with the locals on this one, and definitely opposed to the
office-bound Euro-crats who have probably never visited
Cacela Velha, but would mess it up, given half a chance.
Life near Cacela Velha
In order to reach the beaches, one must
drive further south east, following the signs. The nearest is Manta Rota, which is undergoing some
development and getting a facelift (in early 2007). Most times Ive visited, there has been plenty of
space to spread out and enjoy some Jennifer/beachlife
development might change that, so you may want to visit
Manta Rota sooner, rather than later
And if you visit Cacela Velha, do let everyone know the outcome by sharing your experience. Just go to the Your Algarve Best page and 'spill the beans' using the easy form provided.
Cacela Velha Endorsement:
Pedro, a native of Portugal now living in Rushden in the
UK, wrote enthusiastically:
Cacela Velha - what can I say...
Totally agree with everything you wrote and let's hope it stays the same for many
years. You forget that there is a completely different world out there, when you enter
those very narrow two small streets. A place to visit - for sure, it is very small, but you can actually spend more time than you can imagine, if you sit down and enjoy a drink and some traditional snacks.
Absolutely right, Pedro. Cacela Velha is somewhere to
linger and enjoy the ambience. Its cafés and restaurants
offer a good choice of refreshments, and the Algarve
weather just completes the bliss!
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