Picturesque hamlet with a little fortress overlooking the Ria Formosa
- District: Faro > Municipality: Vila Real de Santo António > Parish: Vila Nova de Cacela
- Population: Ca. 100
- Distances: Faro Airport 51 km, Lisbon Airport 311 km
- Tourist Info: Posto de Turismo de Monte Gordo
Cacela Velha is a hamlet (aldeia) in the parish (freguesia) of Vila Nova de Cacela in the municipality (concelho) Vila Real de Sant António. It is situated on the eastern end of the lagoon landscape of the Ria Formosa opposite the Península da Cacela.
The history of the surrounding area dates back to the settlements of the Greeks and Phoenicians in the Algarve. The name Cacela most likely originates from the Arabic during the Moorish occupation period.
This picturesque little hamlet is closed to through traffic but can be reached from a few miles away from the national road EN125 between Tavira and Vila Nova de Cacela. Visitors can park their car in the large car park at the entrance to the hamlet and easily explore the place on foot.
The little church and the impressive fortress overlook the few houses around. The latter was part of the frontier fortification protecting the Algarve against neighbouring Spain for centuries. Today it is used by a department overseeing the motorway tolls and therefore it is not possible to go inside. There is however a way Itinerário dos Castelos de Baixo Guadiana to explore these fortifications on the lower course of the river Guadiana.
The peninsula of Cacela is the most eastern link in the chain of islands and peninsulas of the Ria Formosa between Manta Rota and Faro protecting the lagoon landscape from the open sea. The beach Praia da Cacela Velha can be reached from Manta Rota by foot, and more easily by boat from Sitio da Fábrica in Cacela Velha. The beach, which has no facilities available, is popular with nature lovers and gays.
A few miles to the west are the golf courses Quinta da Ria and Quinta do Cima as well as a Robinson Club.