Santa Maria was once only a small village that lived in the main economic sector. This village was of primary importance to the fishing industry. However, all the changes that have taken place either in the national situation, both in international as well as its geographical location, contributed to its economic development.

The Parish of Santa Maria has its foundations in 1249-50, during the reconquest of the former Lagos (Al–Zauaija from the Arabic period) by Christians.

Santa Maria, Lagos, Algarve
Typical steet in Santa Maria, Lagos – photo credits (cc) AWFotografie

During the reign of D. Afonso III, Lagos grows in economic and political power and from the 14th century is founded the Church of Santa Maria da Graça which later changed to Santa Maria da Misericórdia, one that gave the title to the Parish, though his origin had as primitive invocation Nossa Senhora da Encarnação.

Being the oldest urban neighbourhood of Lagos, it created within its walls the mechanisms of its development and was stage for kings and queens that crossed to the Algarve towards the Conquest of Ceuta, Tangier, Alcacer-Ceguer and Alcacer-Quibir.