Algarve Luxury Villa Holidays
Algarve Luxury Villa Holidays

View over Tavira


Although the Algarve Forum is great for a bit of retail therapy, the old town is a much more rewarding visit. Though once a Roman town (parts of it are still surrounded by 9th century Roman walls) and then under Moorish rule for several centuries, the disastrous earthquake that so devastated Tavira also destroyed much of Faro. Thus, most of the lovely old buildings date from after 1755. It was Bishop Francisco Gomes who organised the reconstruction of the city, and his statue in the Largo de Sé (the cathedral square) is testament to his achievement.

Following a period of Roman rule, the Moors occupied Faro from the 8th century and named the city Ossónoba. They developed Faro into an important trading port until Dom Afonso III defeated them in 1249 and returned the city to Christian rule.

Drive into Faro on the EN125 and head for the large, free car park at Largo de São Francisco. Walk east and then follow the road round to your left to bring you out near the small harbour and imposing Vila do Arco, complete with stork’s nest. Go through the arch to explore the buildings round the Largo de Sé (once the site of the Roman Forum). You can find the 13th century cathedral here and the 18th century Episcopal palace. It’s also a pleasant place to have a coffee in one of the outdoor cafes. The archaeological museum, housed in a 16th century convent, is a short walk away.

If, instead of going through the arch (which is conveniently next to the tourist office), you veer right past the harbour and into the Praça de Dom Francisco Gomes, you will end up at the old cobbled shopping quarter. There are plenty of good shops and restaurants here. It is also where you catch the tourist train, and you can hire bikes here too. There is a small naval museum next to the harbour and you can take boat trips of varying durations.

As in Tavira, the little tourist train will take you on a magical mystery tour round the old streets. It also stops part way round to give you an opportunity (albeit fleeting) to visit the church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo. Sprint past the fine example of gold-leaf woodwork to head for the rather spooky chapel lined with the bones and skulls from over 1200 monks. From memory, I think it costs 1 euro to enter the chapel although the church itself is free to enter.

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Faro Old City Wall
Largo de Sé
View from the Cathedral


Station Cottage, Trent Lane, Weston-on-Trent, Derby DE72 2BT
Contact: Norman or Tanya Clare, tel: 01332 705552,
All images are copyright Tanya Clare and may not be used or reproduced without permission.
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