Ponte Romana – Tavira

I first visited the charming Algarve town of Tavira a few years ago with a group of photographer friends. Our first night was spent in a convivial local tavern were we sampled a wide range of local Portuguese drinks. It would have been insulting to our hosts not to I think.

It was all very civilised and only one of our party suffered any injuries of note after tumbling on the way home. Thankfully, her nose broke her fall.

The next day we decided to actually put all that expensive camera gear we had lugged all the way to the Portugal to some use. And so after a sufficient recovery period from the night before, we headed into town to the area around the Ponte Romana or ‘Roman’ Bridge.

The Ponte Romana is the best known landmark in Tavira. The cobbled deck is a favourite haunt of folk musicians and offers superb views of the old town of Tavira on the western bank.

Ponte Romana Reflection at Dusk - Tavira
F16 | 6 secs | ISO: 100 | 36 mm

It was very calm clear evening leading to some quite pleasing mirror like reflections in the shallow River Gilão below. This shot of the bridge with the town in the background was taken just after the sun had set and the sky had taken on a purple hue.

Above the bridge on the hill, you can see the spire and clock on a church sitting on the hill that overlooks the town (Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo Tavira).

Ponte Romana at Blue Hour - Tavira
F16 | 6 secs | ISO: 100 | 36 mm

On our second evening in Tavira, we were lucky to be greeted by a gorgeous evening sky full of scattered clouds that reflected the warm light of the setting sun on their undersides. I always prefer a little cloud at sunset for this reason.

I should point out that the ‘Roman Bridge’ is not Roman at all. The original bridge was built in the later Moorish period (12th century) when Tavira was part of the Muslim ruled region of Al-Andalus.

Pfft. What have the Romans ever done for us? Not the bridge in Tavira anyway.

Ponte Romana and Tavira Town at Dusk
F11 | 6 secs | ISO: 100 | 42 mm

I zoomed in a little closer for this shot. Next to the church on the hill is an old water tower that has been converted into a giant camera obscura that projects live panoramic views of the town onto a concave surface. It’s well worth a visit and is of course of particular interest to photography nerds! How often do you actually get to go inside a camera after all?

Ponte Romana Bridge Deck at Night - Tavira
F11 | 5 secs | ISO 100 | 20 mm

As the blue hour period of the evening commenced, I took a few photos on the deck of the bridge itself. I decided to wait for somebody to walk into the frame in order to provide some human interest in the scene. It also helps create a sense of scale.

I’ve written before about how patience is a big part of capturing that “decisive moment” that can turn a decent shot into something so much better and interesting. On this occasion I was lucky as the person you see in the distance walked past me as I was setting up the tripod. It was just a question of waiting for the exact right moment to press the shutter.

With the winter light rapidly fading, we headed back to our favourite little Portuguese bar for another evening of cultural discovery and witty discussion about those credit stealing Romans. I’m told it was an excellent night.

* Only one photographer was harmed in the making of this blog post and I promise we didn’t nickname her ‘Potato Nose’ for the rest of the trip.

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