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Alcantarilha

Alcantarilha is a former civil parish in the municipality of Silves, Portugal. In 2013, the parish merged into the new parish Alcantarilha e Pêra. With an area of 19.54km2 the population of 2347 inhabitants (based on the 2001 census) is dispersed throughout the territory (there are 120 inhabitants per kilometre square of territory).HistoryThe territory of Silves has been occupied since the Paleolithic, and testaments of human presence in Alcantarilha can be traced back to the fossil beaches in Torre and Morgado das Relvas, along the coast. The first settlement in Alcantarilha, developed during the pre-Roman era. The primitive agglomeration concentrated around a defensible area at the end of the settlement. From the inventory by the Direcção Geral dos Edifícios e Monumentos Nacionais (General-Directorate on Buildings and National Monuments) this settlement consisted of a Lusitanian castro bridging the Neolithic and Chalcolithic eras. This space was also a transit point for Phoenicians, Greek and Cartheginian traders.The name Alcantarilha appears to have its origin in Arab settlement/occupation, from the word al-quanTarâ, which meant bridge, viaduct or aqueduct, while the addition of the diminutive "ilha" implied a Roman or Mozarab influence, to indicate small bridge.During the Middle Ages, and beginning of the modern era, little is known about the activities of the communities of Alcantarilha, except for activities related with the defense of the Algarve coast and rare descriptions of the settlement in the 16th century. The oldest description came from 1573, and reflected by João Cascão, King Sebastian's personal chronicler, who accompanied the kig through the Algarve to survey the defenses along the coast. The monarch had ordered the completion of the walls of Alcantarilha in 1571, which were part of a project began in the reign of John III. King Sebastian visited on 28 January 1573 for a short visit, to find the project completed. João Cascão left behind a historical account, on the small "hamlet" of Alcantarilha, that included 150 neighbours and completely encircled by a wall of bulwarks.
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