This beautiful name is said to have originated from the Arab words wad (meaning river) and Emir, leading to the name Odemira in Portuguese.
Despite being conquered from the Moors by the first Portuguese king D. Afonso Henriques, the town was not granted a charter until 1257, in the reign of D. Afonso III, when it was populated on a definitive basis.
Odemira has not managed to preserve any really important remains from this historic past. Nothing is left, for example, of the castle that once stood at the town's highest point, not even the name of the street - Rua do Castelo - which used to lead there.
This has been rechristened Rua Sarmento de Beires, in homage to the Portuguese aviator born in the town and who, in 1924, took off from Vila Nova de Milfontes, in a small Bréguet aeroplane, heading for Macau, where he finally came to rest some 115 hours later, after having flown more than 16,000 kilometres!
In one of the town's gardens, there is a curious painted statue erected in memory of one of the region's other famous personalities: Damiano, the chemist who wrote a book in the fifteenth century teaching people how to play chess!
Odemira's charm lies in its location on top of a small hill, forming a kind of amphitheatre with its brilliant white houses facing towards the river Mira. The source of the river is in the Serra do Caldeirão, but from this point on it is navigable as far as its mouth at Vila Nova de Milfontes, over a stretch of roughly 30 kilometres, a most beautiful setting for sailing, rowing or canoeing.
The region has taken great care to preserve its handicrafts and various craftsmen can be found here making baskets, furniture, pottery and hand-woven fabrics.
The whole of this southern strip of the Portuguese coast, running from the town of Sines to Cape St Vincent in the Algarve, forms part of the Nature Park of Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, a region that contains rare species of flora and fauna and the only place in the world where the white swan can be found nesting on sea cliffs.
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