Sea coast of municipality of Lagoa
|Coordinates: / 37.133; -8.450 / 37.133; -8.450|
|• President||Fracisco José Malveiro Martins (PS)|
|• Total||88.25 km (34.07 sq mi)|
|Lowest elevation||0 m (0 ft)|
|• Density||260/km (670/sq mi)|
|Time zone||WET/WEST (UTC+0/+1)|
|Patron||Our Lady of Light|
Lagoa (Portuguese pronunciation: [lɐˈɣoɐ]) is a municipality in the former-district of Faro, in the Portuguese region of the Algarve. The population in 2011 was 22,975, in an area of 88.25 km². Its urban population is 6100 inhabitants.
According to some historical sources, the earliest settlement in the area occurred along the edges of small lakes or marshes (Portuguese: lagoa), which were drained in order to create a fertile land. There are many pre-historic vestiges of the early settlements, including menhirs (standing stones), funerary necropoles and artifacts that date a human presence to remote history. The entire region of the Algarve was conquered by the Arabs when they moved into the Iberian peninsula in the 8th century.
When the area was later reconquered in the mid-12th century by Christian forces from the north, it was integrated into the fledgling Kingdom of Portugal. Muslim influence in Lagoa was profound, from the rich patrimony left behind, not only in neighboring Silves (then taifa capital), but also in Lagoa where commerce thrived.
During the 14th century, a favorable confluence of conditions allowed Lagoa to develop rapidly. Yet, the events of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake left little marks from this period: the reconstruction wiped away many of its classic architecture (there are a rare few of this period, including the churches of Estômbar and Porches.
The coastal zone was, for centuries, attacked by pirates and corsairs, and those responsible for public security erected various defensive structures along the coast, such as the fortresses of Nossa Senhora da Rocha, Carvoeiro and São João de Ferragudo, in addition to the lookouts and redoubts, such as the tower of Lapa or Marinha.
For a long period, Lagoa was governed within the municipality of Silves. On the 16 January 1773, a foral (charter) was issued King Joseph I, incorporating the municipality of Lagoa, after its principal settlement (Lagoa) was elevated to the status of town (Portuguese: vila).
The local natural resources contributed to the current economic structure of the municipality, with agriculture (especially fruit and wine production), fishing, light industry and, later, tourism influencing the activities of the region. The fishing industry (in the communities of Ferragudo, Benagil, Carvoeiro and Senhora da Rocha), vineyards, and the traditional products of irrigated agriculture were the principal sources of wealth for the area until the 1970s. Driven by the abundance of fish, the canning and conserve industry at the beginning of the 20th century was responsible for an economic boom, that brought a general prosperity and wealth to the region.
From the 1960s, however, tourism has been the principal driver of the area’s development and the creation of the infrastructure. This has brought an increase in job creation, the growth a rapid ly became the economic motor of the municipality, and has now assumed a permanent place in the local economy. Parallel to the growth of tourism has been the growth of all the related activities, especially in the construction industry, services, and general commerce, which resulted in the elevation of Lagoa to the status of city.
Lagoa is bounded on the north and east by the municipality of Silves, west by Portimão, and fronts the Atlantic Ocean to the south.
Lagoa is a municipality rich in beaches. They have been improved dramatically over the last few decades, in terms of infrastructure and access, as well as in terms of water quality and the environment. They now successfully compete with the better known beaches of Portimão and Albufeira. The largest beaches are:
The four civil parishes (Portuguese: freguesias) that provide local administrative control are:
All the parishes have obtained the social designation of towns (Portuguese: vila), although they administratively govern a disperse region of rural-urban agglomerations.
Lagoa is one of the most important tourist areas of the Algarve. There are various factors which have contributed to its popularity, namely the variety of offerings to visitors (the beauty of its beaches, modern tourist accommodation, its golf courses and cultural heritage), orderly planning of landuse within the council area, its social stability, and the friendliness of its citizens.
The city continues to improve facilities and organize events of interest to tourists. Each summer it hosts a large exhibition of craft products at the Parque de Feiras e Exposições de Lagoa (Fair and Exhibition Grounds of Lagoa), known by its official name's acronym FATACIL. Certain heritage buildings have been renovated for cultural uses in the city, notably the Municipal Library and the Convento de São José (St. Joseph Convent) – the Cultural Centre of the City of Lagoa – where various shows and a variety of exhibitions take place. Similarly the Municipal Auditorium hosts numerous shows and other events each week. As well many cultural activities take place at the Parque Municipal de Fontes, north of Estombar, all year round, including theatre, dances, and traditional folk-songs.
In the last 15 years Lagoa has registered one of the highest levels of economic development in the Algarve. It has numerous medical offices, educational (elementary, secondary, music, art) institutions as well as sports, leisure and tourism facilities. Lagoa DOC is a Portuguese wine region centered around Lagoa municipality.