Monuments of the Algarve

Testimonials of the eventful history of the Algarve in the south-western corner of the Iberian Peninsula - vestiges of the Roman Period, the Moorish heritage, the glorious Age of the Portuguese Discoveries, ...

The history of the Algarve has always been closely linked to the sea: already the Phoenicians had established trading ports along the coast, and the Carthaginians founded Portus Hanibalis—known today as Portimão. In the 2nd century BC the Romans spread through the Iberian Peninsula, and remains from this period can be observed in many places along the coast. During the Moorish period in Iberia, the region was called "Al-Gharb" which means "the country of the West". The most prominent monument of this time is the “Castelo de Silves”. In the 12th Century the Moorish occupation ended – since then the region is known the Algarve. In the early 15th century, the beginning of the Portuguese maritime expansion brought a new lease of life to the Algarve and its people. Since then, Lagos and Sagres have remained forever linked to Prince Henry the Navigator and the Age of the Portuguese Discoveries. The little chapel “Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe” near Raposeira is said to be one of the oldest examples of Gothic architecture in the Algarve. The Manueline style, named after King Manuel I, incorporating maritime elements and representations of the discoveries brought from the voyages of Vasco da Gama, celebrated the new maritime power. The earthquake and the subsequent tsunami of 1755 damaged most buildings in the Algarve, so that you will find only scattered elements of this voluptuous Late Gothic style such as belfries and portals. Built in the first half of the 18th century, the charming “Chapel of São Lourenço dos Matos” near Almancil provides the very best example of Algarve baroque decorative tile work with its tiles (“azulejos”) in tones of blue and white, covering the walls of the nave and the vaulted ceiling. It is considered to be one of the finest art treasures in southern Portugal.