Sights of Vila Nova de Milfontes
Many tourists visit the resort town of Vila Nova De Milfontes for the beautiful beaches and the stunning natural scenery but the town also contains a few historic and noteworthy buildings and monuments.
This guide will highlight the most important sights in Vila Nova De Milfontes and detail the history of each attraction. Today Vila Nova De Milfontes may be only a small fishing village but its history extends prior to the Roman occupation and the town has always had a close connection to the oceans and fishing primary as the estuary provided natural shelter for fishing boats.
Forte Sao Clemente Castle
The Forte Sao Clemente Castle is a small fort that was positioned to guard the Rio Mira estuary from North African raiders or pirates. The fort was constructed under the orders of King Filipe (1598-1621) after a terrible raid caused the villagers to desert Vila Nova.
The fort was constructed between 1598 and 1602 and its presence was enough to deter the Algerian pirates so much that the fort never was involved in a single battle. During the 18th century the importance of Vila Nova waned as the Rio Mira became shallower and by 1820 the fort was all but abandoned. Since 1903 the fort has been in private ownership and been transformed into an exclusive hotel.
The Light House, Vila Nova De Milfontes
The location of the light house is the draw here not the actual building. The light house perches high up on the cliffs above the mouth of the Rio Mira Estuary and the Atlantic Ocean. To one direction the massive Atlantic rolling waves crash against the rocky outcrops and the other side the calm water of the estuary. From the light house there is a pleasant walk north to the harbour.
Church of Nossa Senhora da Graca
The Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Graça (Church of Our Lady of Grace) dates from the beginning of the 16th century, though very little of the original church still exists. The church today dates from 1959 and is painted the traditional blue and white of the Alentejo region. During its history the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Graça has been twice partially destroyed. The first event was a devastating earthquake that brought the church crashing down.
The second was a raid by Algerian pirates who plundered the town and this attack was the driver for the construction of the Forte Sao Clemente. The bell tower of the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Graça dates from the 19th century and the church is managed by the Order of Santiago da Espada, whose insignia cross is engraved on the front door.