In the 13th century, Caminha was just a fishing village until King Afonso III decided to build a modern castle and a fortified village in 1260. At that time, the region was of great military importance, since it was located at the border with Galicia.
The castle was later reinforced by Kings Dinus I, when reclaimed land finally connected the original island to the shore, and Ferdinand I. Although most of the walls and towers were torn down or built over, the oval shape of the castle is still clearly visible in the design of some streets, and the keep tower is still intact and serves as entrance to the historical center.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, it became one of the main ports in Northern Portugal, trading extensively with Northern Europe, Africa and India. A witness of this golden age is the main church (Igreja Matriz), built between the 15th and 16th centuries in an exuberant late Gothic-Renaissance mixed style.