And where does the name Vilamoura come from?
“Vilamoura” literally translates to “Moorish town” in English.
But where did the name come from?
Unlike the history of the area, its name only dates back as far as the 60s, when it was bought by banker Cupertino de Miranda. In the years that followed, what was formerly “Quinta de Quarteira” (Quinta = rural/agricultural estate in Portugal) would be transformed into a tourist resort built around a marina. This development included changing the area’s name, therefore disassociating the luxury new build from neighbouring fishing village, Quarteira.
Chosen as a reference to the almost 5 centuries of Muslim rule of the Algarve before it became part of the Kingdom of Portugal in 1189, the name celebrates the region’s heritage. Many traces of the Moorish occupation can still be felt – in everything from the architecture and place names to local tales and celebrations.
Did you know that to the rest of the country, people from the Algarve are known as “mouros” (Moors)?
And did you know that Vilamoura has been occupied since the bronze age?
Graves have been found in the area containing skeletons and artefacts from as far as the 12th-10th centuries BC, followed by Roman and then Islamic occupation, which can be seen in the Roman ruins of Cerro da Vila museum.
Once the Moors were expelled from the region in 1294 (following the “Reconquista”), the king at the time – King Afonso III – started calling himself King of Portugal and the Algarve, which went on to become “the Algarves” when lands in Northern Africa were also conquered from the Moors. This separation between Portugal and the Algarve lasted until as recently as the 19th century, when the Portuguese Empire was known as the “United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves” before Brazil gained independence.
From King Afonso III’s reign until Cupertino de Miranda bought the Quinta, the area around Vilamoura and Quarteira was used heavily for farming. Having reconquered the lands from the Moors, King Afonso made it part of his Reguengo (Royal Property) – proof of the high quality of materials produced and fertile farmland, which operated alongside a substantial fishing industry.
Nowadays, Vilamoura is home to Portugal’s biggest marina and one of Europe’s most prestigious resorts with a casino, countless hotels and prestigious golf courses. However, its fishing tradition has lived on, and the Algarve has become famous for its high-quality cuisine.