Silves

A long time ago, when Silves was still called Xelb, it was the capital of the Algarve. Back then, the region was ruled by the Moors and called Al-Gharb. Nowadays, the inland city is a must visit destination in August, when the Medieval Festival is on, but also worth a trip any other time of the year. Enjoy the Algarve tells you six things you shouldn’t miss in Silves and surroundings.

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

Pictures by Kyle Rodriguez

 

Explore the town

Be prepared for a workout, as Silves is built on the top of a hill. (You know you’ve properly explored the city when your calves hurt at the end of the day). It’s a fun town to explore, especially the old centre. Make your way through a real city gate, walk below arches and follow curved streets until you suddenly find yourself on a plaza overlooking part of the city. Children will be delighted by the many shops selling wooden swords and bow & arrows, whereas adults will probably prefer the small art galleries.

 

Climb the castle

Flanked by Portuguese flags and a statue of a mean looking guy (Sancho I, aka the Populator, a former king of Portugal who took the city back in 1191), the red brick castle of Silves dominates the city. It’s probably the best preserved castle in the Algarve. From inside the castle walls you have some excellent views of the surroundings, as well as of the archaeological excavations that are going on. Most of the walls can be climbed, so take care with children.

 

Learn about Moorish history

The Moorish influence can be found everywhere in town, for example at the archaeological museum. Also worth a look is the Centro de Interpretação do Património Islâmico, located in the tourist building on the pretty Praça do Município square (pictured). It offers information about the city’s Arab heritage, as well as an exhibition about poetry and archaeology.

 

Stroll through the gardens

Tired of exploring the city? Find a shaded bench in the Al-Mutamid gardens, admire the statues in the water and chill. Alternatively, the banks of the Rio Arcade, especially the area close to the Roman bridge, also make for a good place to relax.

 

Step back in Medieval times

Swordfighters, soldiers on horseback, jugglers and acrobats. If you’re in the Silves area in the middle of August, a visit to the Medieval Festival is an absolute must. For 10 days in a row, the entire town is transformed into a medina back in the 12th century as shopkeepers dress up, troubadours are playing in the streets and whole pigs are roasted on the spit.

 

Ride a buggy

With its hills and dry riverbeds, the rugged countryside around Silves is perfect for off-road driving. Wear clothes that can get dirty, fasten those seatbelts and explore new roads in a buggy or a 4WD.

 

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

 

 

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