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!

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