History of Portimão: a brief summary
It is thought that the town of Portimão was built on the site of a Phoenician and Carthaginian trading post. It seems that the Romans called it Portus Hanibalis or Portus Magnus. In fact, there is archaeological evidence of the Roman presence in the region, but we don’t know anything about the importance of Portimão at that time. Historians are not sure if Portimão corresponds to what the Romans called Portus Hanibalis or Portus Magnus.
During five centuries of Arabian rule, Portimão was a very small fishing village. It was conquered by the Portuguese in 1250. The village was integrated into the Portuguese kingdom by King Afonso III. Because of the constant raids of the pirates, the coastal area of Portimão was not considered safe to live. In the 15th century, a new town called Vila Nova de Portimão was officially founded and a wall was built to protect it. Until the 16th century, Portimão was often the target of the attacks of Moroccan, English, Dutch and French pirates. This led to the building of two fortresses, one on each side of the estuary of the river Arade. One was in Ferragudo, called Fort of São João do Arade, and another one in Praia da Rocha, called Fort of Santa Catarina.
The city was devestated by the 1755 earthquake and the subsequent tsunami. Churches, chapels and the city walls were greatly damaged and many inhabitants left the city.
Modern Portimão history
Portimão was revived by the fish-canning industry in the 19th century. Nowadays, Portimão is the second most important fishing port and the second largest town in the Algarve. In the 20th century, tourists began to visit Portimão and its beaches. More and more hotels and apartments were built near the coast to accommodate the tourists. The city has since developed itself into an attractive tourist destination in the Algarve.