The city of Faro is located in the south of Portugal and is mainly known to tourists for its airport. The small and manageable old town of Faro offers a very worthwhile destination for trips to the Algarve. In the historic city center, many baroque buildings tell of times of former wealth and cultural heyday.
Rise, Destruction, and Reconstruction
Faro was already an important trading center during the Roman Empire due to its favorable location. When the place came under Christian rule in the 13th century, an era of economic and cultural prosperity began, which culminated in 1577 with the appointment as a bishopric.
In the following centuries, the former wealth was lost, first by the devastation of English troops and later by two strong earthquakes. In the 18th century, the city had to be almost completely rebuilt, but some of the former magnificent buildings have been preserved.
This eventful history makes Faro’s old town an interesting destination for many study trips.
What are the most beautiful sights in the old town?
The old town is surrounded by a well-preserved city wall and can be entered through one of the three historic city gates. The best known is the 18th century Arco da Vila, one of Faro’s two landmarks. From here one of the narrow streets leads to the most important square of the place, the Largo do Carmo, which is surrounded by several sights.
One of them is the Se ‘cathedral, the “Se” is the abbreviation for “Sedes Episcopalis”, which means bishopric. Its church tower can be climbed and is rewarded with a wonderful panoramic view of the city and the Ria Formosa National Park, a Wadden Sea with numerous lagoons.
In the garden of the baroque church Igreja do Carmo hides a rather unusual tourist attraction, the so-called “bone chapel”. The bones and skulls of the deceased, who came from a relocated cemetery, were integrated into the walls.
Also worth a visit are the eye-catching town hall Camara Municipal and the pretty city harbor, to which almost all the alleys of the old town of Faro lead at some point.
If you are on holiday in Portugal on the Algarve coast, you can look forward to numerous highlights. In addition to beautiful beaches and numerous water sports, tourists from all over the world will also find some attractions here. Not to be missed is Benagil Caves.
The caves, which are the biggest tourist attraction in the region, are located directly on Praia de Benagil beach, near Albufeira and about 15 kilometers from the port city of Portimao. The somewhat hidden caves, which are among the most impressive in Europe, can only be reached from the water – either by boat or by swimming. The distance from the beach is approx. 100 meters.
Impressive play of colors in the “cathedral”
The rock formation known as the “cathedral” shimmers orange inside due to the sun falling from above through a large hole. It is an extremely impressive experience. In addition, the colorful scenery offers fantastic photo opportunities. The current shape of the caves was created in the past millennia by the washings of the sea. You can explore the Benagil Caves at low tide either on your own or as part of a guided boat tour, which includes between 10 and 15 caves.
Beach holidaymakers and water sports enthusiasts as well as hikers get their money’s worth on the popular beach. So you can enjoy a fascinating panorama from the coastal path between the beaches of Benagil and Praia Marinha. The best time to travel to the Algarve is between May and September
Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra
A Portuguese fairy tale castle
Sintra, located 30 kilometers northwest of Lisbon, is probably the place with the highest density of buildings worth seeing in Portugal. The Quinta da Regaleira in particular impresses and inspires countless visitors every year: the dream of an eccentric is manifested in stone here.
António Augusto de Carvalho Monteiro, Baron von Regaleira, made his fortune from the coffee trade. At the end of the 19th century he decided to move from Brazil to Portugal. That is why he commissioned the quinta, named after his title, from the Italian architect Luigi Manini, which was completed in 1910.
The buildings and the park can hardly be grasped in words: the main building looks like a fairytale castle that cannot be assigned to any architectural style. As impressive as the palace with its diverse nested rooms is, the visitors are drawn to the gardens again and again: the park has countless hidden places that seem to have sprung from the imagination of a child – grottos, accessible fountains, observation towers, bridges, tunnel systems and mystical places shape the enchanted gardens. Well-prepared visitors have flashlights with them to explore every corner. The landscape designed with lakes, rivers and unusual plants is just as inspiring as the architectural features of the palace, the chapel and the smaller outbuildings. Lovingly worked out details on the buildings create the overall impression of a perfect retreat that invites you to dream, stroll and discover. A single visit is hardly enough to fully explore the Quinta da Regaleira with gardens.
Once an extravagant mansion – today a UNESCO World Heritage Site
UNESCO has classified the fantastic Quinta da Regaleira as a World Heritage Site. The architectural masterpiece is recognized as particularly valuable and worth preserving. Every visitor will confirm this – Sintra is worth a trip of its own and, in its diversity, is also ideal for study trips.