Some 40 km north of Vila Real is the extremely attractive border village of Alcoutim. The village is built over the Guadiana River with bright small houses up and down the hill, and a very peaceful and quiet environment. It has a long history as a river port, dominated in turn by Greeks, Romans and Arabs who all fortified the heights with various structures.
Alcoutim is a village filled with history, as its Castle still witness, stage of battles and protection of the territory, mainly because of its proximity with the Spanish border and with the North of Africa (as all the Algarve).
As you’ll discover as soon as you arrive here, Alcoutim is a million miles from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the coast. Even if you are not staying in Alcoutim it really is worth driving there, not only to see the town itself, but also to enjoy the unspoilt countryside that you pass through.
- Alcoutim Castle (Castelo de Alcoutim) – The castle overlooking the river was built in the 14th Century to defend the border against the kingdom of Castile.
- Roman village of Montinho das Laranjeiras – Archaeological excavations have uncovered a series of buildings that once formed a roman “villa” and an interesting Christian church built on a cruciform plan that scholars ascribe to the period of Byzantine rule over the south of Iberian Peninsula (6th/7th centuries).
- Alcoutim Old Castle (Castelo Velho de Alcoutim) – About one kilometre north of the town of Alcoutim, the old castle is one of the more important Islamic military structures in the Algarve; it is both an important historical visit for tourists and histographically significant to the Muslim occupation of the region.
- Nossa Senhora da Conceição Church – The current building dates from the 18th century. An interesting decorated baroque stairway gives access to a spacious atrium which offers a magnificent view over the town and the surrounding fields.
- Relíquias Castle (Castelo das Relíquias) – Ruins of a fortress of Muslim origin (8th to 9th centuries), quadrangular in floor plan and with two solid towers, on top of two hills overlooking the river Vascão.
- Nossa Senhora da Oliveira Church – Dating from the end of the Middle Ages, it is associated with a tradition of appearances by the Virgin in an olive tree which, for that reason, was believed to have curative powers.