Vilamoura is reminiscent of a Walt Disney World resort with its various hotels, bars and retail outlets all purpose built round the marina basin. Probably because both have been built from scratch in what was scrubland and swamp. Possibly an important wetland habitat has been lost in the process, though the house martins are certainly thriving in the eves of the apartment complex walls. We watched as they swooped in circles from their tightly packed nests, presumably returning with tiny insects for their clamouring young.
There is no established town of Vilamoura around which the resort complex and its golf courses have grown. This lack of settlement has not always been the case. Centuries ago the area between the two rivers responsible for the swamp was a huge lagoon, which has gradually silted up. The rich soil and sheltered lagoon had attracted people since Neolithic times, with Romans, Visigoths and Moors all taking a turn to live here. The most dominant remains to have been discovered are those left by the Romans and there is a small museum and the partially excavated site of a large villa and a public spa to visit a stones throw from the marina. It took us a couple of attempts to find the correct direction to throw said stone, as it is hard to gain a feel for the geography of the various apartment blocks. In the end John just happened to spot the site across the road. Once found we had a pleasant time wandering around the low walls, reading the engagingly illustrated boards and admiring the remains of the mosaic flooring. We shared the quite extensive site with just another couple and were far enough from the sea to be out of the wind, which was blowing the forecast hooley in the marina.
It would have been very peaceful, but for the strimming. A couple of guys were busy cutting back the remaining wetland habitat, just the other side of the fence from the remains. It was quieter nearer the museum building, which was very much in character with the site and had been surrounded by vines, olives and apricot trees. Once in the museum there were artefacts from Roman times and also some from the other cultures on show. Particularly haunting were the actual remains of Neolithic people, curled inside large burial pots. The museum also seemed to host cultural activities as an amateur play was being enacted in the foyer during our visit, though lacking Portuguese we could make no sense of it.