Silves

silves (2)
silves 006
Once the capital of the Algarve, Silves is a charming and enchanting town with interesting buildings, traditional shops and cafes and  a delightful riverside walk. The  main feature of the town is the imposing castle, built of striking red Silves sandstone, and dominating the view as you enter into the town. Although the castle is Roman in origin, the building we see today, dates back to  between the 8th and 13th centuries.It has an impressive main gate flanked by two defensive towers and  extensive walls with three towers, which visitors are free to walk on. The castle and its gardens have recently undergone an extensive renovation programme and are well worth a visit.

In an unassuming way Silves unfolds itself to visitors revealing an impressive cathedral as well as a charming smaller chapel, Igreja daMiseracordia, an elegant town hall, a fascinating museum and many more interesting buildings.

The best way to explore Silves is on foot, popping into  the morning market where local producers sell fruit and vegetables, exploring the narrow cobbled streets and alleyways and relaxing in the wonderful praças or squares. Stop for a coffee in one of the cafes..and stay as long as you like. At lunch time there is the smell of Piri Piri chicken or sardines being grilled on the open barbecue. Silves has an excellent choice of restaurants, where fresh produce and traditional cooking introduce you to the essentials of Portuguese food.

In August, Silves turns back the clock and the whole town immerses itself in the now famous Silves medieval fair.The streets are lined with stalls selling teas and herbs, handmade jewellery and leather goods, cakes and breads. You mingle with belly dancers and snake charmers, kings and knights, beggars and lords. Food is cooked on open fires and served on terracotta or wooden platters.