Holiday Tip: Visit Faro, the Algarve’s capital

Forget the beach for a day and discover all that the Algarve’s capital has to offer. On its pedestrianised streets, the café terraces are perfect for getting into the local pace of life.

Let us begin with its name. Faro derives from Ibn-Harun, the Arabic family name of the 11th century governors. The history begins with the Arco da Vila at the top of a palm-lined garden with views out over the sea. From outside, the arch is the project of the Italian architect Fabri. From within, it belongs to the Moor prince Bem Bekr.

Within the Castle walls, the narrow streets with archways and alleys lead onto the Afonso III square where the statue of the king recalls the city’s conquest in 1249. On the site of the former mosque stands the Se, the landmark of the new regime. Within, the Renaissance interior is impressive. While in the neighbourhood, head over to the church of Misericórdia and the elegant Bishop’s palace. And in the pretty cloisters of the Nossa Senhora da Assunção convent, the tour takes us back to Roman times with the priceless collection of the Infante D. Henrique Museum.

Beyond the walls, there is a very different city, rebuilt after the earthquake of 1755 by a still rich noble and bourgeois class. They made their mark in their elaborate residences and palaces and the Lethes Theatre.

For a great family day out, visit the Living Science Centre where all will enjoy the museum’s take on "Cyber Space" themed around the "Sun".

The capital of the Algarve, with its lively and bustling centre packed with stores, terraces and restaurants and with the best in seafood, will surprise you every step of the way!


Holiday Tip: A drive through the Serra do Caldeirão

Head into the Algarve’s hinterland and explore the beautiful landscapes of the Serra do Caldeirão.

Drive through gentle hills and discover hidden villages with their own traditional trades, architecture and local cuisine.

Experience the green forests of eucalyptus, cork-oaks and pine-trees, or enjoy the views over wheat and barley fields. Amongst the hills, stop from time to time and watch the people as they busily go about their daily tasks: the cork stripper, the shepherd, the miller, or the apple picker in the orchard.

Discover the characteristic architecture of the houses in this inland region, with their chimneys, ovens, sloping roofs and whitewashed walls.

In São Brás de Alportel, stop and admire the parish church and the iron bridge. At the small museum centre of Cachopo, you’ll find an exhibition of traditional local crafts.

To round of your tour of the region, don’t forget to taste some of the local cheese, wine, brandy and sausages!

Source: www.visitportugal.com


Algarve Stories - Discover the history and secrets of the Algarve

What is the pirate Francis Drake’s connection with the town of Lagos?

The Algarve is popular with tourists the world over. It is a region steeped in history with a rich cultural heritage. On your holiday, learn more about this famous Portuguese landscape.

Perhaps you didn’t know that the city of Lagos was attacked by Francis Drake, one of England’s most famous corsairs, or that off Lagos Bay in 1693, France’s Admiral Tourville sank an Anglo-Dutch convoy of 80 ships commanded by England’s Admiral Rooke.

Did you know that the Algarve Ethnographic and Costume Museum in São Brás de Alportel includes a reconstruction of an old barber’s shop?
Such shops used to be a place that the richer classes met to gossip and discuss politics.

Discover how Algarve chimneys, with their clearly Moorish influence, only began to be produced 200 years after the Arabs were driven from the region. Learn the romantic Moorish stories centred on the African coast.

If you enjoy Algarve wine, discover how the grapes of the region saved the quality of northern wine in the 19th century. Grapes were taken to estates in the Douro region to be blended with what little northern varieties remained after a devastating bought of disease.

This and much more are just examples of what you can discover during your holidays in the Algarve!

Source: www.visitportugal.com


Holiday Tip: Travel back in time with the Silves Medieval Festival

Medieval Merriment in the Algarve

Nestled in the Algarve’s sunny tip of Southern Portugal, Silves has become renowned as a place of great historical significance. Beginning its life as a dwelling for a small riverside colony, this is a town that has endured many transformations over the years. Once the strong Roman city of Sibilis and then the Moorish town of Xelb, before the Christians finally took control in 1242, this culturally diverse district has a wealth of past wisdom to draw upon. And despite seismic damages during an earthquake in 1755, many of the city’s monuments have remained surprisingly intact. Everywhere from the compact cobbled streets to the craggy Silves Castle, this stunning town surveys scenery of rolling hills and the River Arade, recalling the splendors of times gone by.

Revisiting a significant time in this triumphant historical past, every August this vibrant town turns back the clocks to stage a fully-fledged festival of Medieval merriment. Aptly known as the Silves Medieval Festival, and particularly popular among locals, this is a time-travelling event where everyone plays a part. Electric lights are turned off; local merchants dress in full medieval garb and wandering minstrels pervade the streets serenading passers-by.

Remaining true to the era, visitors experience Silves as it once was, and are greeted with daily street scenes. Straw is strewn everywhere; horses, mules and camels transport valuable goods, and Templar Knights parade through the town with chivalrous prospects. Adding to the busy street bustle, beggars plead for alms while local merchants barter and trade. Even the local eateries enter into the contagious merriment, serving traditional wine and food in fired-earthenware to be enjoyed in the medieval manner-less way, without a knife and fork. The daily currency is converted from the Euro to the Xelb to complete the full effect of this time-travelling façade.

Taking its rightful historical place, this year’s festivities are being held from the 9th to the 15th of August with the frivolity in full-flow from 6pm until 1am. Allowing for all ages traditional costumes are available for hire in all sizes, (adults you simply can’t escape!) And, with a warm and welcoming atmosphere, this fictitious journey back through time couldn’t be more enjoyable.

Source: www.mydestination.com/algarve