By Carlos Garcia
Ayamonte, Spain/Castro Marim, Portugal, Aug 31 (EFE).- “The salt is in our blood,” says Pedro Pires, a technician from the southern Portuguese town of Castro Marim, which together with Vila Real de Santo António and the Spanish town of Ayamonte across the Guadiana river that divides Portugal and Spain, makes up the so-called “Eurocity” of the Guadiana, a unique collaborative Iberian territory where salt production dates back to the Phoenicians.
While the towns lie on either side of the border, they have joined forces to display their unique characteristics as an attractive tourist destination.
Remedios Sánchez Rubiales, Ayamonte’s Councillor for Culture, tells Efe that they are trying to show the world “a unique, different destination, with two countries” in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, between the Spanish region of Andalusia and the Portuguese Algarve.
“It is not only the tangible resources that are important, but also the intangible heritage” shared by the three border towns, says Pires.
Their shared heritage is illustrated by the story of a Spanish priest who was responsible for the parish of Ayamonte in Huelva and who in the 16th century also officiated daily mass in the Portuguese town Santo António de Arenilha, which today is known as Vila Real de Santo António.
Or by the many tales of maritime smuggling in the Atlantic triangle on the south of the Iberian peninsula.
Fishing and the salt trade are intimately linked in this Eurocity divided by the Guadiana, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
Historically, Spanish fishermen would go to the Portuguese bay of Monte Gordo, in Castro Marim, where they needed an abundant production of salt to preserve their catch.
In the 13th century, Castro Marim’s salt production could only be sold to Portuguese fishermen in the region, except for a quarter of the total, which had to be reserved for the Royal House.