The Arab fortress of Cacela Velha is located at the far end of the light and nature paradise of Ria Formosa, which extends to the magnificent beaches of Manta Rota, Altura and Praia Verde.
It was inhabited by Phoenicians and Carthaginians in 1000 BC and occupied by the Arabs in 713. The original Arab castle was founded in 951 by the Arab prince Idn Darraj and conquered in 1240 by King Afonso III, who gave it to the Order of Santiago. The current fortress was rebuilt in 1794 and has a star-shaped plan and two pointed ramparts. Next to it stands the Mother Church, a Renaissance work with a Baroque altar from the 16th century. On the street Idn Darraj you can see the old house of the padre and an Arab mediaeval cistern, surrounded by a beautiful core of traditional houses. It is an unforgettable landscape above the Ria Formosa Channel, separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the beautiful beaches of the Cacela Peninsula.