In the century. There existed, probably closer to the sea, a Vila de Santo António de Arenilha that, in the century. XVIII, had disappeared swallowed by the sea and the sands. However, it was important to control the entry of goods through the Guadiana, to place the Monte Gordo fisheries under royal supervision and to face Spain, which had been at war in 1762/63.
The construction of Vila Real de Santo António, with evident economic and political advantages, was, therefore, more than a pure act of royal will.
The experience of rebuilding Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake was thus rehearsed in Vila Real de Santo António. First in the careful planning of the urban structure, facilitated by the flat terrain. Then by the use of rigid architectural modules. And finally, due to the prefabrication of standard construction elements such as the stonework that came from Lisbon, by boat, carved and equipped for immediate settlement.
To appreciate the urban plan of Vila Real de Santo António it is necessary to stroll through its streets. Start at Praça Marquês de Pombal, the heart of the village, with a radiant stone pavement from the obelisk erected in 1776. It contains three of the main urban elements of the 19th century. XVIII: the church, the Town Hall and the old Casa da Guarda. Then you have to walk a few blocks, built on a private initiative, but in which an architectural form is still apparent.
The end of the proposed route is the old Customs building, next to the landscaped banks of the Guadiana River.