The Algarve is best known for its beaches and charming fishing villages. But if you want to take a break from the beaches and step back in time, all you have to do is take a 20 minute drive inland from Portimão to visit the town of Silves.
The Castle of Silves sits on a hilltop and from its perch you can look down upon the red roofed town as well as the surrounding countryside. The Moorish castle dates back to the 8th C. and is probably built on the site of a 4th C. Roman or Visigoth fortress. The castle has 11 towers and is made from the sandstone typical of the region (Silves sandstone) which provides its reddish tone.
While the exterior of the castle is well preserved, all that remains inside are some partially excavated foundations and the water cisterns that were used to serve the town. However, it is worth the visit, as there are sweeping views of the countryside from the ramparts.
Next to the castle you can also visit the 13th C. Cathedral of Silves, built on the site of a mosque. There is also the Museu Arqueologia (Archaeological Museum) that displays artifacts from Silves’ history.
Photo credit: Hernâni Viegas
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