Home > Abandoned - Explained, Atlantic, Europe, Explained, History, Maritime > The Anchors of Tavira Island at Algarve, Portugal

The Anchors of Tavira Island at Algarve, Portugal

For centuries the tuna industry flourished in Algarve, Portugal. When fishermen flocked to the coast of Portugal, the tuna population became threatened over time until it was no longer profitable to fish for tuna. The ships are long gone, however the anchors were left behind.


Rather than toss used materials to sea, the fishermen would abandon the anchors on the beach. The fishermen reportedly left anchors scattered for miles up and down the beaches.

Generations ago the anchors were staggered neatly as you see them today. Nobody knows who did the staggering and when.

The locals call it the Cemitério das Âncoras (cemetery of anchors) and since no official record was made of the anchors source, all we know is what has been passed down from generation to generation.

Comparatively there isn’t much mystery behind the anchors as we know they were placed there by fishermen over time – we just don’t know when or specifically who arranged them in that manner.  In fact most recently, there were discussions to clean up the anchors from the beach.

What do you think?  Eyesore or cultural history?

(Click thumbnails to enlarge)

See it on a map here

(Images via WebUrbanist & Artificial Owl)


  1. king_hil
    December 17, 2011 at 01:51

    cultural history for sure! it appears they’re cordoned off, so they’re not occupying the whole beach by any means.

  2. January 20, 2012 at 13:10

    I say its a cultural history, it tells stories, its not hurting the environment.

  3. nonpoy
    February 25, 2012 at 08:47

    CULTURAL history it is… nice blog by the way…

  4. Highgate
    March 11, 2012 at 09:56

    A thoughtful and sculptural reminder that situations and lives can be changed by factors beyond our control.

  5. August 2, 2012 at 11:39

    Cultural history..

  6. July 18, 2013 at 03:43

    Definitely cultural history! Why would anyone even suggest removing them? I’m guessing the local town is probably broke and some moronic politician and wants to scrap the anchors.

  7. June 15, 2014 at 15:20

    The photos certainly make it look beautiful. I suspect they could clean up a section of the anchors to make useable beach while leaving a large sections as a museum and for curiosity. Do you know what they decided to do?

    • June 18, 2014 at 08:58

      Funny you ask about that, I clicked the map link to see what it looks like now – and I don’t see the anchors. I published this almost 3 years ago so I wouldn’t be surprised if something had been done with the anchors. Maybe the map link is incorrect and they are still there somewhere. Good question though, I’ll have to look more into this…

      • kate
        July 31, 2014 at 03:23

        Would you like me to go and have a look there for you and confirm

        • August 3, 2014 at 17:52

          Kate, I would very much appreciate that, thank you! Are you local to the area? If you do find the anchors I would like to feature more photographs as well. If you are interested, I could feature your work here and I would be happy to give you photo credit as well. Thanks!

  8. Adam
    August 11, 2014 at 00:48

    I am going there on tuesday, my sister has a house there.
    It is the most beautiful place! I was lucky enough to go there every year as I grew up.
    I will walk amongst them for you and take a few pictures.
    Lots of lives were lost catching tuna often by hand out of the boat! and the locals remember this place for them it feels very spiritual. I hope they would never get rid of them.
    They are found at Praia do Barril 4 miles west of Tavira in the Algarve region of Portugal. A little train takes you across the spit of land that broke off during an earthquake years ago.
    It’s a really lovely area you must try and visit :)


    • August 11, 2014 at 15:26

      Thanks for stopping by Adam, I can only imagine how beautiful they must be in person. I look forward to seeing your pictures! :)

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