The island belongs to the Municipality of Faro, being constituted by Culatra, Hangares and Farol. There are three associations: Clube União Culatrense, Association of Residents of Ilha da Culatra and Association of Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes. It was only at the end of the 19th century that the “islands barrier” (namely Armona and Culatra) began to show permanent population (Bernardo et al. 2002). Whilst the village of Culatra presents an occupation of a more permanent nature and still closely linked to the fishing arts, the villages of Farol and Hangares (on Culatra Island) and Armona (on island with the same name), as well as Praia de Faro (in Ancão Peninsula) reveal an occupation of seasonal tourism-related and subsequently with the bathing season (Bernardo & Dias, 2003).

Concerning the main festivity, every year, on the first weekend of August, the Culatra community organizes the Feast in Honor of Our Lady of the Navigators – “Festa de Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes” – patron saint of the Island and protector of the men of the sea. Its greatest uniqueness is manifested in the realization of a river procession that takes place in the Ria Formosa, between the city of Olhão and the Island of Culatra that provides the meeting of two Marian images that cross the lagoon space of the Ria and then carry out, together, a land procession in a community mobilization that is unique among the cultural expressions of the riverside populations of this region. Although it proves to be secular in the history of popular devotion, the Marian invocation associated with the sea and the protection of fishing communities is of recent tradition on the Island, since it is also recent the very settlement of the Place of Culatra.

The Feast in Honor of Our Lady of the Navigators, or Feast of the Island, presents characteristics of a type of popular religiosity that demands for itself a very own way of approaching the divine that distances itself from the formal and traditional Catholic practice. It is an ephemeral moment, of personal and community encounter with the Divine, “in the manner of Culatra”, so it is also a joyful time, of great fervour and exaltation, of total rupture with the laborious daily life so often restless and distressed.

Algarve Imaterial. (2022). Ilha da Culatra – Aldeia de pescadores e mariscadores. Accessed on 17th February, 2022. URL:

Bernardo, P., & Dias, J. A. (2003). História da ocupação das Ilhas-Barreira da Ria Formosa. In Vilas, F., Rubio, B., Diez, JB, Frances, G., Bernabeu, MA, Fernandez,
E. Rey, D., Rosón, G.,(eds.), Special Volume on the 4th Symposium on the Atlantic Iberian Continental Margin (pp. 189-190).

Bernardo, P.; Bastos, R. & Alveirinho Dias, J. (2002) – Historic Roots for Barrier Island Occupacion in the Ria
Formosa, Porto, Litoral.

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