Moncarapacho

A Portuguese description of Moncarapacho will likely include the word ‘calma’. Apart from when the carnival is on in February, this inland town is pretty chilled out. Agricultural, rather than touristic, with lots of figs, olives, oranges and carob beans growing in the surrounding area. What to do in and around Moncarapacho? Enjoy the Algarve suggests these eight things. 

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine September 2017

 

Chill in the praça

Shade-providing jacaranda and palm trees make the Praça da República the best place to be in Moncarapacho (according to Enjoy the Algarve). Restaurants and cafés have set up their terraces on the small square next to the church. There’s also a single souvenir shop, but it’s more of a place to sit and quietly watch the daily life of the people that are living in this countryside town.

 

Check out the rest of the town

While strolling through town, check out the Nossa Senhora da Graça church (pictured) and the pink police station that’s built in Arab style. Moncarapacho is also home to Centre Algarve, a holiday center for people with special needs. When visiting the town on the first Sunday of the month, definitely have a look at the large market, which is held on the field near the cemetery.

 

Visit the museum

The Museu Paroquial de Moncarapacho is small. It’s located in a house that belongs to the church parish and worth a look for the pretty yellow-blue azulejos along the inside walls. In the museum you’ll mainly find Roman artefacts and old coins on the ground floor, while the upstairs area is taken over by religious symbols, saint statues and old clerical clothing. Do check out the manual olive press, it’s cool.

Opening times: 9-12.30 & 14-17h, Monday to Friday. Entry free.

 

Create some pottery

A salad bowl, a sangria jar or rather a teacup? There’s a pottery shop in Moncarapacho itself (just northeast of the Casa do Povo), which sells all kinds of ceramic objects. If you want to give the art of olaria a try for yourself, though, drive on to nearby Bias do Norte. There, potter Francisco Eugénio (pictured) doesn’t only make various clay creations, he also teaches others how to work the wheel in his pottery workshops.

 

Climb the Cerro de São Miguel
Actually, you might want to consider driving up by car instead as it’s quite a way from town. Apart from biking down again (only for experts!) and looking at the small church (follow the signs for Igreja de S. Miguel instead of driving all the way up), there isn’t much to do at the top of the Cerro de São Miguel. However, it’s certainly worth a visit for the great view over the Ria Formosa that being at 411m altitude gives you. (The only way to get a prettier view of the region is to go ultralight flying. On a clear night, you’ll be able to see the lights of Faro airport’s runway in the distance. To get there: head out of Moncarapacho direction Santa Catarina, but turn left on the M1331 (it’s signposted Cerro S.Miguel) and follow this road over the A22.

 

Go horse riding
Discover orange orchards, old Roman roads and views over greenhouses and the Atlantic Ocean from the Cerro da Cabeça area. Apart from car, bike or foot, the landscape around Moncarapacho can also be explored by horse. In Foupana, located a few kilometres northeast of Moncarapacho, the Dutch Heleen de Jong (pictured) offers horse riding lessons and hacks in the countryside. Read more about Heleen’s happy horses here.

 

Taste some olive oil

‘After smelling, swirl it around in your mouth and inhale some air between your teeth to taste the bitterness and pungency.’ This may sounds like a wine tasting, but it’s actually olive oil you’re sampling. Pressing the olives of the 20 hectares of Moncarapacho’s olive groves in an artisan way produces five different varieties of award winning olive oil. The company offers guided tours and olive oil tastings. Read more about how the Monterosa olive oil is made here.

 

Discover Fuseta

If you want sea and sand, go to Fuseta. Located only 6km south of Moncarapacho, this charming fishermen’s village isn’t just the closest beach, it’s also where to get on to the eastern side of Armona island, go SUP or kitesurfing, and discover the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve with its birds and salt pans. Other nearby options on the coast include Tavira to the east (16km) and Olhão to the west (10km), whereas going further inland from Moncarapacho will bring you to Estoi, Santa Catarina and São Brás.

 

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine September 2017

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