A star shaped stone fort facing the sea, with palm trees instead of canons, Forte de S.João da Barra – built in the second half of the 17th century to protect the entrance of the channel leading to the harbour of Tavira (ria) – lost its military use when the channel was blocked by the sand.
Lost between sky and sea, with its imposing walls and main gate – that protect it from the touristic frenzy in Algarve during the summer – it preserves in its interior a space of great quality: square of arms with well and stone tanks, framed by the access ramps leading to the four bastions and surrounded by soldiers’ quarters, coach houses, horse stables, gunpowder stores and the Governor’s house, with chapel and stone paved terraces.
Located in the natural park of Ria Formosa and listed as public interest building, the Fort started recently a new life as guest house for nature loving people, with ten rooms for guests (project by Arq. Victor Mestre).
In the northeast bastion a round swimming pool waits for the guests with a lawn rest area under the friendly shade of olive trees and in the south east bastion guests can take breakfast and assist to the spectacle of the world – the daily sea conquer of the land in high tide, transforming the ria in a peaceful lake, the sunset and rising of the moon over the sea and, at night, the firework of the shooting stars and the splendor of the constellations is their apparent slow motion.
In the Governor’s house a lounge and music rooms in the earth floor and a breakfast room and bar in the upper part of the vaulted chapel are available for the guests, the first floor being reserved for the owner’s family. The decoration is sober and elegant, with period furniture, collection pieces and modern painting (Pedro Chorão, Regina Chulam, Jaime Isidoro e Guilherme Parente, Teresa Magalhães, Nuno Siqueira, R.K Bathnagar, Atul Sinha) and sculpture (João Cutileiro, António Matos).
Being part of the natural park of Ria Formosa the recent intervention in the Fort was inspired by a nature loving spirit, using natural solutions as much as possible, like high vaulted ceilings, stone pavements and solar panels and fans, instead of air conditioning). A boat is available to take guests across the channel to the opposite island and its almost desert beaches. There are also bicycles and information about trekking in the natural park beautiful countryside.
For golf players, there are four golf clubs nearby and in the island guests have access to a beach bar, umbrellas and water skiing.
The Fort is situated 100 m east of Cabanas, where guests can find several restaurants, bars, cafes and newspaper stands, 10 km away form the old charming city of Tavira – with monuments of great interest and quality restaurants and pubs, 40 kms away from the Faro airport and 200 km from Seville (highway).