Mini guide to Silves
Once a rich and powerful city, Silves today is a sleepy town lying in the foothills
of the Serra de Monchique Mountains, near the Algarve. The town boasts many attractions
and its cathedral and red sandstone castle are believed to have been founded by
Silves is home to the largest and best-preserved castle in the Algarve. The
castle is the most beautiful military monument to the Islamic period in Portugal
and dates from the 4th or 5th centuries. Its 11 towers and ramparts afford magnificent
views over the surrounding countryside.
Built on the site of a former mosque, Sé Velha (Old Cathedral) is the
town's 13th century Gothic cathedral and contains a number of Crusader tombs
and a jasper statue of Nossa Senhora da Conceicção.
The Archaeological Museum located downhill houses Stone and Iron Age tools
and surgical instruments from the 5th to 7th centuries. The main façade
is dominated by a Gothic doorway spanned by a backdrop which ends in a veranda
held up by gargoyles.
The Municipal Museum contains a well tank of Moorish origin (11th century)
that is 18m deep and 2.5m across. Steps lead in a spiral down to the bottom.
The museum also has archaeological finds, including a collection of Moorish
ceramics from digs conducted at the castle.
Other sights worth seeing include: Misericórdia Church; Chapel of our
Lady of Martyrs; Pillory, a stone monument rebuilt from 16th century remains;
and the Portugal Cross - one of the most beautiful crosses in Portugal.
Ten kilometres northeast of Silves is the Barragem do Arade, one of the Algarve's
main reservoirs. Visitors to this peaceful spot can swim, enjoy a picnic or
hire a canoe for a relaxing afternoon. Nearby São Bartholomeu de Messines
is a quiet country town with an old parish church; while Alte, 28kms to the
east, is widely described as the prettiest village in the Algarve and boasts
a lively Saturday market.
Driving to Silves is easy. From the east or west along Route 125 (the main
road traversing the Algarve), head towards the town of Lagoa; then go north
to Silves along Route 124. Trains from Faro serve the Silves train station,
which is just 2kms from the centre of the town. The bus station is on Rua da
Cruz de Palmeira and receives eight buses a day from Portimão, 45 minutes
Selection of hotels in this region:
Click below for a
full list of hotels and online booking