The historic center, old town or Montechoro in Albufeira is one of those places that are impossible to miss, and it is because within its walls and its narrow streets, you can still see the roots, some of them are Roman but the majority are Arab, of of this village called Castillo de Mar. Its streets are typical of the Algarve, which are lined with houses or pale white tiles and have retained that peculiar style of Arabic that mixes the scent of jasmine, with narrow cobbled streets and the typical smell of a fishing village. You have to visit because its history tells us that one day, many centuries ago, it was one of the most important fortresses in the south of Portugal. Albufeira was wrested back from the Moors under King Alfonso III, and remained under military command in 1504 and in 1986 it was named a city, becoming a major tourist center. The information is provided by the Municipality of Albufeira.
The Arco da Vila, or arc of the city, is one of the medieval gates of entry to the historic lighthouse opposite the marina, the Banco de Portugal and the Church of Mercy. It is a National Monument and was built in 1812 by architect Francisco Xavier Fabri by the order of Bishop Francisco Gomes. It has a neoclassical facade, inside the arch there is a horseshoe arched wall belonging to Arabic walls and architecture. On the outside, there is a niche with the image of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Located on the island of Tavira in the Algarve region of Portugal, there is a beach (Praia do Barril) where you can find more than two hundred rusty anchors. Although the anchors have been purposefully placed out by the locals, the cemetery has the charm of an abandoned place. The anchors are from the old tuna vessels that aren´t used anymore due to lack of resources over the past several years. Today, the island basically thrives from tourism and nothing much remains, besides this strange cemetery, of the old times.
This pretty, mid-seventeenth century fort, which surprisingly is privately owned, was originally part of the Santa Catarina de Portimao fortress, the major defence system at the mouth of the Arade River. The Sao Joao de Arade Castle is located between the two beautiful beaches of Angrinha and Grande. The best place to view this beautiful public monument is from Playa Grande, specifically from the cove next to the Escondido bar, where some steps lead to the fort. It is an impressive and sober walled construction in an dreamy enclave. Too bad that is not open to the public.
The Fort of Santa Catarina, also known as Miradouro, is at the end of Avenida De Tomas Cabrera above the Marina of Portimao and the sports area of the Levante beach in Praia da Rocha. It is a small military construction that was constructed in 1621 by Alexandre Massay following orders of D. Joao de Castro who at the time was the Governor of the Kingdom of the Algarve, with the intention to protect the city of Silves and Portimao and Spanish and Moorish pirates. It can be accessed by the avenue or by some small stairs from the Marina. It is tiny and has a chapel inside, a patio and a bigger patio where there are views of the beach and of the Arade River which are fantastic.
The Slave Market in Plaza de Infante D. Henry was established as a result of African expeditions (XV century) and was the first slave market in Europe. The present 2-storey building was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1755, it's now a cultural center with various exhibition halls and an art gallery, the facade features the coat of arms of the Marquis of Nisa.
The neighbourhood of Vila-Adentro is located within the walled city of Faro. This is what remains of the city's splendor before the 1755 earthquake. You enter via the Arco da Vila which was built by the order of Bishop Francisco Gomes de Alvear and designed by the Genoese architect Francisco Javier Fabri. In front of it you can see a statue of St. Thomas Aquinas. Continuing along the Rua do Municipio, you'll find the Praca Largo de Se where you can see the Faro Cathedral, Town Hall, the Seminary and the Episcopal Palace. To the right of the cathedral, there's a pleasant walk down the Rua do Raposuso to the Church of Rapouso and the statue of Alfonso III. Once outside the enclosure, you can see the remains of the walls and a mosaic that tells stories about King Alfonso III. It's a lovely trip in winter, although I guess it would be a bit hot in summer.
This landmark is next to the Church of Mercy, in the Praça Dom Francisco Gomes on the corner of Rua João Dias, which is almost next to the Arco da Vila. The building that now houses the Bank of Portugal offices was built in 1926 in what was the old vegetable market of the city. It was designed by architect Adães Bermudez in Renaissance style. It has a striking façade decorated with tiles, a large Moorish cover, and beautiful top floor windows.
The Cross of Portugal, lies on the outside of Silves in the EN-124, on the outskirts of the historic heart of town, so for most of the tourists it goes unnoticed and it is too bad , because the cruise is one of the most lovely in Portugal, so I do not understand how more people don´t see it. The cruise dates from the late 15th century, early 15th century, one side is represented crucified and on the other to the Dolorosa. The monument is surrounded by a fence and covered by a pavilion in the middle of a garden.
The strategic location of Lagos attracted different civilizations (Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans), but not until the tenth century did the Muslims rule, when the primitive fishing village became more important and walls were built to protect the city. All that we see today were built on these walls that were completed in the fourteenth century, around the hexagonal so-called Vila Adentro (primitive historical Lagos). In the sixteenth/seventeenth centuries they were reinforced with several bastions, of which 5 survive today and 2 gates. From Cabral Judice Park there are good views of these walls and bastions. You can access the pedestrianized city center from here through Porta dos Quartos.
We found this spot by chance, Lagos is a city where free parking is quite difficult, so looking for parking nearest the old town, we found the gate of Plaza de Armas and we thought that this wall area was as good as any to start our journey. The first thing that surprised us was a Via Crucis, then a small building next to the very colorful arch that caught our attention.
An example of civil architecture of the XVII-XIX centuries, in Plaza del Infante, attached to the old medieval wall near the Castle of the Governors. This home was referenced in 1728 as housing the customs office. According to an inscription on the façade it was remodeled in 1737, it was in ruins after the earthquake and was rebuilt again in 1820. When the customs stopped working it became the Hospital of Lagos.
The Gate (or San Gonzalo Arch) is one of the entrances to the old town of Lagos from the boardwalk (outside Fort Ponta da Bandeira). It's next to the Castle of the Governors, and is integrated into the defensive wall (fourteenth century), flanked by two watchtowers that follow the military construction model of Islamic buildings. It's a National Monument of Portugal and inside there's a small chapel dedicated to Lagos San Gonzalo (patron of Lagos) that was erected here because it is assumed that this is where his birthplace was (1360). The feast is celebrated on October 27.
Because of its strategic location (at the mouth of the Guadiana River, which borders the Castle and next to Morocco) Castro Marim suffered many attacks and invasions in the past, so it implemented a defensive policy in the thirteenth century - a fortified wall atop a hill overlooking the city with a Castle inside. The fort has a triangular irregular shape that adapts to the shape of the hillock where it sits, the largest vertex faces south. It has parapet walls around the perimeter that you can stroll watching the panorama. To the west, facing the Guadiana, is a stronghold defended by a low rise revellín. To the south, the wall is crenellated for artillery and points to Fort of San Sebastian.
The Regimental Store (Regimental Armazém) is another notable building in Infante Square, opposite the Church of Santa Maria. It's an example of seventeenth century military architecture, intended to keep goods from ships coming to Lagos. It has 2 wooden doors, and each of them have the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Algarve. The larger door is made of striking wood and is topped with a baroque pediment painted yellow-orange, it's the only copy that remains of the seven steps of the Via Sacra which were scattered around the city.
The old Military Hospital (Messe Militar) is the largest building and luminous in Infante Square, its spotless white painted facade dazzles. It's a civic building built in the XVIII-XIX centuries for military purposes. In 1490 it was the original City Hall (the Pacos do Concelho) and in 1696 the convent and hospital of San Juan de Dios. After the Lisbon earthquake the current building was constructed with various bodies arranged around a central courtyard.