Church of Saint Mary of the Castle
The church of Santa Maria do Castelo, a short stroll from Tavira's Moorish castle, was built in the 13th century on the site of what was probably one of the largest Moorish mosques on The Algarve. It was significantly damaged in the 1755 earthquake and was later re-modelled in Neo-Classical style, although parts of the clock tower with its arched Arabic-style windows and the Gothic stone portal are believed to date from the original 13th century structure.
The church exterior is painted white and has a bell tower as well as the clock tower which features an unusual oversized clock dating from the early 19th century.
Inside the church are a number of important treasures, including quite a few brightly painted statues and some intricately decorated blue and white azulejo tilework. One of the chapels contains the tombs of seven knights, who, according to legend were ambushed by Moors, precipitating the attack on the city in which Tavira was reconquered.
Also found here is the tomb of Paio Peres Correia, who was part of the fighting force which won the city back in 1242. In that same year this knight became Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, and in 1249 he took part in the re-conquest of Silves.
A highlight of any visit is a trip up the steep steps of the bell tower (cost €2.50 per person) for which you will be rewarded with panoramic views over Tavira Old Town and the salt plains in the distance.