Getting to Know the Castro Marim Area
The Vastnesses of the "Serra"
Looking out from Castro Marim castle you see the sea on one side and on the other the rounded shapes of hills stretching away to the horizon. These are the uplands of the interior and they issue a silent challenge to everyone who is at home in wide, open spaces, who takes pleasure in bird-watching or likes to walk or cycle, who appreciates the bounty of the natural world.
The roads that lead into the hills are punctuated by tiny hamlets of low, white houses, surrounded by fields of crops, the cool expanse of the lakes formed by the Beliche and Odeleite dams, and the silhouettes of ancient windmills perched on the hill tops. Then there is the Guadiana river, winding its way through the empty spaces of the hinterland, on whose banks stands the picturesque village of Almada de Ouro, which takes its name from the gold that was once mined there.
Situated amidst hills, with a murmuring river for company, Odeleite is a tiny oasis of verdure in a landscape dominated by the dusty browns of the local schist. Within the white walls of its church are some fine statues dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Pleasures of Sun and Sea
Retur, Verde, Cabeço e Alagoa
Joined by a long, broad strip of sand surrounded by the green of pinewoods, the three beaches are equiped with support facilities.
Treasures of Craftsmanship
The villages dotted across the hills, and Castro Marim itself, continue old traditions of craft work that preserve the memory of life in the Algarve, making little treasures that are all the more precious because they represent the real art of the people. In Castro Marim the womenfolk sit at round cushions to which a design is pinned, their hands moving skilfully to weave a fine thread between the pins to make the most delicate bobbin lace. Another tradition preserved by the women of the Algarve, in this case in Vale das Zorras and Junqueira, is the production of traditional brooms and brushes using leaves from the small palm trees that grow wild on the hills. For their part, the menfolk take fine strips of the reeds that grow on the banks of the Guadiana and other rivers of the region to make baskets that are strong but light. Odeleite, in particular, is known for its basket ware, but the craftsmen of Furnazinhas, Funchosa, Alta Mor, Corte Pequena, Vale do Pereiro and Tenêncio are also highly skilled in this domain.
The Delights of Local Cooking
Castro Marim’s cuisine is as varied as its landscape. From the sea come fresh golden bream, sea bass and other fish for grilling, and delicious prawns. From the river come freshwater species, such as different varieties of mullet that are cooked to traditional recipes. The salt marsh is rich in crabs, and the hills offer succulent dishes made with pork, broad beans and peas, as well as refreshing “gaspacho” soup for the hot days of summer. As far as desserts and pastries are concerned, the highlight is the “bolo de massa” from Azinhal, a cake flavoured with cinnamon and aniseed, and “filhós”, a typical Algarvean treat.