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Ayamonte, gateway to the algarve

Images of AyamonteLocation

Ayamonte is historically the gateway to the Algarve and to Portugal. Sited on the estuary of the Rio Guadiana, which forms a natural barrier between Spain and Portugal, the development of the town has inevitably been influenced by its status as a border town. In many ways the towns architecture is reminiscent of neighbouring Portugal; in fact this area is often called the 'Spanish Algarve'. The small, tree-lined plazas are filled with busy pavement cafes and bars, serving the great seafood that is characteristic of the area; this seafood will certainly be fresh, as the catch from Ayamontes own fishing port makes it's way to the plates of the tourists.

Ayamonte is a town and municipality located in the province of Huelva, Spain. According to the 2005 census, the city has a population of 18,001 inhabitants. The township of Ayamonte preserves its old medieval quarter in the central district of the town, with many very narrow streets and historical buildings; this central area is a designated car-free zone.

For centuries the ferry link between Ayamonte and Vila Real de St Antonio was the traditional crossing point between Spain and Portugal. A modern bridge has now been built to the north of the town, linking the motorway systems of the two countries, but the ferry still runs and provides an inexpensive mode of transport between the two countries.


Ayamonte pedestrianised streets

There was a settlement here long before the Romans came; the name of the town evolved from the Greek 'Anapotaman' (literally "over the river"). Overlooking the town are the remains of the ancient Roman castle, although the Moorish tower and baroque decoration provide further clues to the history of the area.

The Old Town centres around the main square, the Paseo de la Ribera. From here the warren of narrow streets, filled with the cafes and bars, will lead you to some stunning 15th and 16th century churches. The Iglesia de San Francisco dates from 1521, and is a national monument; the church has a magnificent altarpiece, although it's greatest treasure may well be the view over to Portugal from it's tower. It is also one of the most popular venues during the towns annual classical music festival. Further along the same street, Calle San Fransisco, you will find the 15th Century Iglesia de San Salvador whose tower, if it is open, provides an even more spectacular panoramic view of the town, the river and over to Portugal.

Ayamonte, 16th Century churchBut Ayamonte is not just about history. The town skilfully combines the old and the new, so you can enjoy the culture and then sample the great restaurants, bars, cafes and nightlife. There is also the beach resort of Isla Canela, with it's miles of unspoilt beaches and calm waters (due to the sheltering sandbanks), with areas which are a magnet to kitesurfers and windsurfers. Further along the beaches you will come to the marina area of Punta del Moral, where sailing enthusiasts can hire boats to enjoy the coastal waters and then return to enjoy the profusion of tapas bars and restaurants.

Other activities in the region include some superb golf courses; indeed, the golf course at Isla Canela is reputed to be one of the most beautiful in Spain, as it has been carefully designed to take maximum advantage of the important wildlife wetland areas which border Ayamonte. The area around the golf club also provides a number of other amenities, including an international standard bowling green, football practice areas and tennis courts. Ayamonte, promenade and marina

Outside Ayamonte

The town makes a great base to explore the surrounding region. It is ideally located to let you sample the best of Spain AND Portugal; indeed, it is nearer to Faro Airport than it is to Seville! Within Spain you will find more golf courses (the 27-hole course at nearby Islantilla has been used for international competitions); history and culture, including the famous pueblos blancas, and Huelva from where Christopher Columbus set sail on his first voyage to the Americas; and wildlife areas, such as the important Parque National do Donana.

With Faro only 45 minutes away, you can also enjoy the best that the Algarve has to offer. Highlights for the family must include the Aqualand Waterpark just to the west of Faro, possibly one of the largest and most spectacular waterparks in Europe.



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