São Brás de Alportel

North of Faro, located in the Barrocal region, São Brás de Alportel is known as the birthplace of the Moorish poet Ibn Ammar. It’s also the place to admire flower carpets on Easter Sunday. But what else is there to do in São Brás and surroundings? Read on!

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine September 2016

Pictures by Kyle Rodriguez

 

Explore the town

This could get a bit confusing, as São Brás doesn’t really have a town centre. It’s a mix of old and new (the older part of town is near the church) with loads of one-way streets that make it pretty impossible to navigate by car. Our advice: just park somewhere and explore; you might run into unexpectedly nice views like this Schweppes advertisement.

 

Go to the museum

The Museo do Traje, or costume museum, of course displays costumes. But it’s also the place to find out more about cork, agricultural tools, old carriages or to just have a drink in the courtyard. Looking for events in the São Brás area? Get in touch with ‘Friends of the Museum’, who organise all kinds of cultural and social activities such as jazz concerts, photography workshops, Zumba, art classes and Portuguese lessons.

 

Stroll through the Jardim da Verbena

These public gardens in the middle of the city are part of the former Episcopal Palace, a 16th century building which used to be the summer residence of the bishops of the Algarve. The terraced gardens aren’t that big, but are full of plants and herbs, like rosemary. They’re located next to the city’s outdoor pools on one side, and the Centro de Artes e Ofícios at the other.

Opening times of the Jardim da Verbena: 8-20h April to September; 8-18h October to March.

 

Visit a cork factory

São Brás is all about cork; it once was the centre of the Portugal’s cork production with over 80 factories. Nowadays, the majority of the industry has moved to the centre of the country, but there are still ten factories left in the area. Visit one of them to see how the bark is processed and you’ll never look at a wine cork in the same way again. Want to know more about cork? Read Planting for future generations in our February 2016 issue.

 

Get creative

Many old traditions and handicrafts such as basket weaving, carving wooden spoons and producing tiles have been kept alive in this town, making São Brás a good place to work with your hands. In the last year Enjoy the Algarve tried making cork jewellery and working with tadelakt here.

 

Have a picnic at the Fonte Férrea

With loads of shade, BBQ space, tables & benches, the Fonte Férrea is a nice spot for a picnic. The Ribeira de Alportel runs through it most of the year, but dries up in summer. Kids will love the wooden bridge over the river, whereas birdwatchers should keep their eyes peeled for kingfishers and nightingales. To get there, drive the N2 north from São Brás, through Alportel, and take the turning towards Fonte Férrea which will be on the right.

 

Explore the Serra

The Serra do Caldeirão, the mountain range just northeast of São Brás, is worth exploring by foot, car or bike. The almost-hairpin curves offer panoramic views of the serra and make this one of the most scenic roads in the Algarve, especially at sunset. Stick to the N2 and the N124 if you don’t want to get lost or, for more fun, try out the small roads that aren’t always signposted. There are plenty of off-road options for those with a 4WD. In case you end up in Loulé, read this.

 

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine September 2016

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