Fish Tales

The waters of Gilão

Life on and beside the river in Tavira

This evening my wonderful friend Jo arrives in her beloved Tavira and so I thought I’d set her a mission in case she has a spare moment during her lengthy stay this Autumn! I am curious about the river which runs through Tavira, as at the Ponte Romana (which isn’t Roman by the way!) the river changes its name from Rio Séqua to Rio Gilão. There cannot be many rivers that change their name almost at their mouth.  I’ve been unable to determine why, so am hoping Jo might find out for me this Autumn. Over to you Jo!

Rio Sequa
This side of Ponte Romana it is Rio Séqua

Whilst we await Jo’s advice I thought I’d share the little I do know about the Séqua/Gilão. It rises 56km kilometres away in the Serra do Caldeirão, and is fed by the Riberias Alportel, Asseca and Zimbral. In the 16th and 17th centuries Tavira was an incredibly important port for the Algarve and Portugal. It was also a tuna fishing centre and further upstream there were apparently many watermills along its banks. However the fisherman and merchants were fighting a losing battle with the river. It was gradually silting up and by the 19th century it was no longer a thriving merchant port. It remained one of the main tuna fishing centres though for another hundred years, but even that eventually disappeared in the 1970s when the shoals found a new route from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.

There are still a few small fishing boats coming into the city, and on low tides it is not unusual to see the egrets and gulls joined by fisherman in the river. I’d love to know what this fisherman was gathering, we sat watching him for quite a while but couldn’t quite work it out. I am guessing molluscs but what do you think?

 

31 comments on “The waters of Gilão

  1. I heard that it was a Romeo and Juliet type scenario with the two lovers throwing themselves off either side of the bridge. Mike

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    • ah you are the third person to share something along these lines . . . clearly it is the associated story. I wonder if it is a myth or based on reality?

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  2. Edith is right. I seem to have heard that story. And thank heavens I’m now off the hook xxx

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    • Hee hee……thought you like a challenge but clearly it is so beautiful and so wonderful there at the moment you’ve completely relaxed. Fabulous 😊

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  3. I didn’t know it had two names, but have seen the shell fishermen!

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  4. I love Tavira too. I have a photo taken two years’ ago of a fisherman standing in the river, who looks very similar to your man! I think he is fishing for clams.

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  5. Who ever understands name changes. I still don’t know why marathon became snickers or opal fruits became starburst!

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  6. Great photos and writing. I wish I was there too 🙂

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  7. As usual, a really fascinating read and the photographs are marvellous.
    Now for a personal query. Two friends of mine who walk a lot (about 20 miles per day when they walk) want to go to Porto for a break next spring and have asked me to go with them. I want to, not to do long walks, but to potter and do some ambling. But are there enough walks in the area to occupy them for say, 2-3 days? Not necessarily 20 miles, but say 10 miles. Information would be much appreciated.

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  8. Ah, those cloudless skies! Wish I was going with Jo, I could do with a peaceful few weeks away somewhere warm and preferably dry! Hope she manages to get to the bottom of this mystery Becky. And your fisherman gallery is lovely though he doesn’t appear to have caught very much for all his efforts.

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    • Not sure he was really focused on what he was doing . . seemed just to be enjoying walking in the river. 🙂
      Definitely missing the blue skies at the moment – feels like weeks now since we last saw any blue 😦

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      • We get the odd day or two, followed by cloud. Today it is chucking it down so I am going no further than the conservatory! (Just to check it is not flooding…)

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  9. I’m sure Jo will find an explanation.

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  10. Hi Becky. Thanks for this, and the link to Jo’s piece – that was lovely.

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    • So glad you enjoyed and her post is lovely isn’t it. Btw do you know why it changes or know anyone who might know?!!

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      • The ‘official’ explanation for the two names is the (almost inevitable) story of ill-fated lovers, one Moorish and one Christian, whose unhappy story reached its denouement on the Roman bridge. I wish I could remember exactly how it goes! I have a note somewhere . . . Anyway, I believe they drowned, one on one side of the bridge and one on the other, and the two names of the river memorialise the unlucky lovers. And indeed one could be a man’s name and the other a woman’s. So there you go!

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      • I knew you would know! And what a story . . . . perfect opener for your book on Tavira when you write it 😉

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  11. Hmm, that’s very strange about the name.

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  12. Good to know the history about this town. Nice sequence of shots of the fisherman.

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