Silves in the Algarve, Portugal Holidays

When heading to the Algarve for your Portugal Holiday, the natural association is with sun, sea and beaches, but as we’re always looking for alternative places to visit, we decided to find out what else the Algarve had to offer.

We start visiting an old town which used to be the capital of the Algarve and one of the most important of the Iberic Peninsule, Silves.

The region of Silves has been inhabited since the Paleolithic time and is full of history. The town was possibly founded during the times of Roman rule, when the region was part of the Lusitania province.

With its medieval and colorful style, the city lies on a hill with its Moorish Castle and Cathedral right on the top. The city entrance is already picture perfect as you cross the Ponte Romana (Roman Bridge) over the Arade River, with a mix of building styles from medieval to roman.

Before you start exploring the city you must visit the “A Cruz de Portugal” (The Portugal Cross). A monument carved in white limestone from the XV century.

Just next to the cross you can see an old cork factory, one the biggest and most important in the last century. It provides a cork museum with machinery and the history of the regions golden days, and just few steps away you find the Archeologic Museum with many a find from the Paleolithic period.

You can walk up the hill to see the Catedral da Sé (Cathedral), the Igreja da Misericórdia (church) and the Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish castle). You can take the car all way up to the castle, but if you do, you’ll miss a magical walk through the medieval roads, with its fascinating architecture where once a year, it hosts the regions biggest medieval fair.

The Moorish castle remains with towering colorful walls, believed to have been constructed from the Islamic occupation around the XII Century.

There’s so much to see in Silves, but decide on heading to the Monchique Range, and find out a bit more about its therapeutic water and the opportunity to see the Algarve from 902mts above sea level.

The range is named after the town of Monchique, located in the area, as well as the Termas de Monchique (Thermal Spa) with geothermal springs.

From the bottom to the top of the mountain you wouldn’t think for a second that you are in the Algarve, with so much green from the lush native forest.

The place is perfect for the traveller who loves nature as well as well as securing the opportunity of visiting the spa, try and buy the therapeutically water which has the same name, along enjoying a great meal – or simply a nice Portuguese coffee the medieval tavern just a few steps from the Spa. If you brought you own food you can enjoy the peaceful Parque da Mina (Mine´s Park) surrounded by green, with a beautiful waterfall and ancient trees.

Right on the top of its highest mountain, called Fóia, you get a clear view of the coast along with the valley facing north.

In conclusion, the Algarve has a few hidden gems to discover, away from the typical beach resorts.