Next Stop, Faro

Old Town Faro by Tim Wilmot

There has been a long interval between posts but I was determined to finish a book by Christmas, which I did. Then I took a few weeks off to celebrate its completion along with the holiday season.

I am back now with more stories as I continue on my adventures.

My next stop during my visit to the Algarve is Faro, a coastal town with a fascinating history.

The first settlements in the area date back to the 4th Century BC, during the period of Phoenician colonization of the Mediterranean. During that time it was an important commercial port for produce and fish.

Then came the  Romans and during their period of rule, they transformed the area into a Roman settlement. They reinforced the existing wall surrounding what is now called Old Town. There were homes, temples and a forum built within these confines.

Eventually the Visigoths occupied the area until the Moors conquered and occupied the town and restructured the city wall. The Moorish occupation lasted about 500 years. 

King Afonso III conquered Faro in 1249 and integrated it into the Portuguese territory. 

A tile installation at the entrance to Old Town depicting the seizure of Faro by the Portuguese

There is an interesting story about how Faro was conquered by the Portuguese. At the entrances into the city were strong wood doors that could not be broken through so the Portuguese soldiers brought wood to the doors and started fires at each entrance which burned down the heavy wooden gates and the Portuguese were then able to enter the town.

What is also interesting is after the conquest of Faro, the Moorish people were granted their civil rights and able to continue farming and trading.

With the Age of Discovery, Faro became a thriving coastal commercial center.

During our visit to Faro, we stayed in the Old Town in a Bed and Breakfast within the walls of the town, Casa Arco do Reposo.

You can see the entrance to Faro at the bottom of this photo. Directly to the left is the Casa Arco do Repouso which stretches along the wall to the square tower on the left. (Photo not mine. Don’t have one of those cool camera drones yet 😉

From the inn, you can walk along the top of the wall from the main gate to the square tower.

According to the story, the Arco do Repouso (the Arch of Repose) was where King Afonso III rested after the conquest of Faro.

Walking through the main gate of Old Town
View from the top of the gate looking into Old Town
The wall along the patio

I enjoy imagining how they built the wall and why the rows of different sizes of stone were laid in layers.

Eggplants peaking from under the leaves in the vegetable garden at Casa Arco do Repouso
…and tomatoes

While in Faro, we visited the Faro Cathedral.

According to people who share the local history, initially a Roman temple was built on the site, then a Visigoth Christian basilica which was later converted into a mosque during Moorish rule. The mosque was eventually converted into a Christian church after the conquest of the city by King Afonso III in 1249. 

The church was damaged again during an English raid in 1596, destroyed in the earthquake of 1755 with only the tower and two chapels still intact. Eventually the church was rebuilt and has an architectural mix of Romanesque and Portuguese Baroque design.

Old Town is quite picturesque and I enjoyed walking though the little village.

Faro, the capital of the Algarve, one of Portugal's tourist regions. Restaurant Tertulia Algarvia.
The cafe where we enjoyed lunch in Faro
I love these cornerstones you see in Faro’s Old Town.
Headquarters for the No1 Infantry in Faro

Wherever I am in Portugal, I like to visit the municipal mercado in each town and the one in Faro did not disappoint.

They have everything indoors in one location from chocolates, to bakeries, the fish market and the produce stalls.

It was a very nice two day visit to Faro and a recommended stop.

Coming up next, Tavira.

Dora Taylor

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