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Faro is the Algarve’s biggest city and with the main airport for the Algarve. Whilst not so well known as a holiday destination. Faro can be a good base for any holiday. London is not seen as a holiday destination, but still attracts millions every year.
Faro has a fair share of history and culture along with places of interest. With a population close to 70,000 it has become the Capital of the Algarve. The city of Silves lost popularity as the main city of the Algarve, due to the decline in trade, due to river silt causing the river to become difficult to navigate. Faro is the main administrative centre for the whole of the Algarve region. Faro has both Arab and Roman ruins, but most of the present older buildings constructed after the disastrous earthquake of 1755. Many have old wrought iron balconies and there parapet walls with statues and urns. The Moors who occupied the town in the 8th Century originally gave it the name of Ossonoba then developed into a trading port until 1249. They were defeated by the forces of Dom Afonso lll.
Hand painted tiles in the various public buildings depict scenes of the battle in the history of Portugal. Similar tiles can be seen on the benches in Portimao in the main square near the fountain.
Faro has a Cathedral, also many churches with the finest hand carved wooden altar backdrops, lavished in 24ct gold leaf. But the most famous is the cities, "golden" church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo the best example in southern Portugal.
It also contains the macabre chapel lined with the bones from over 1.200 monks.
Particularly attractive is the old part of the city surrounded by the Roman walls that date back to the 9th century. Inside a spacious open square that was once the site of the Roman Forum. A 13th Century Cathedral that faces the 18th Century Episcopal palace. Another nearby build worth a visit is the 16th Century convent now the home of the city’s archaeological museum. Covering periods when the Arab occupation ruled.
Next to the small harbour/marina bordering the Praça de Dom Francisco Gomes is the small naval museum. Displaying intricate detailed scale model ships boats and galleons, showing the maritime history of a navy and working life in Portugal.
There is also the Faro Jewish Heritage centre, which consists of a cemetery and a small museum. It still has strong active connection today. Much of Faro is now a thriving one with everyday shops restaurants and nightclubs to cater for those who live in the city centre. Faro is also the home of the Ria Formosa lagoon nature reserve. Over 17.000 hectares, a stopping place for hundreds of different species of birds. During arrival in the spring mating season, then migrating in autumn period.
The beach is a bit of a trek being 7 Km distant from the city. A long sandy beach reached by crossing a wooden bridge it is not far from the airport. Faro holds many annual events and fairs and well worth contacting the tourist office to see what’s on during your visit.
Marble sculptures at airport