Silves is one of the largest municipalities in the Algarve. This town holds great historical value, it was first conquered by the Moors in the 12th century, and was once the capital of the Algarve. It ceased to be so in the 16th century when it went into decline mainly due to the silting up of the Arade river on which it was heavily dependent for communication with the outside world. The capital of the Algarve then became Faro. In this town were found traces of human presence since prehistoric times, which demonstrates its antiquity.
The focus of a discovery trip in Silves should be its Historical Center, to be explored on foot. The essential points are concentrated in the area, very close to each other. Although let us give you some friendly advice, the climbs are steep, so you’d better save your breath, this unfortunately is not a tour for people with mobility problems.
In order to start your exploring journey of the city center, you should head to Moinho de Pedra street. If you visit in the warm season, you may see many storks. They are a sight to behold. For many tourists, it is the first time in their lives that they have seen these birds. They build huge nests that can be found everywhere in this area.
A few steps up the street we come upon the first historical attraction, The Silves City Gates. They were attached to walls that protected the town and they used to be the main entrance of Silves. You can cross through this structure to continue on our path of historic thrills.
In front of the City Gates, you will find the town square, where the Silves Town Hall is located. This is another beautiful site in the town, with several palm trees and a lake in the center. Here you will also find some traditional stores where you can purchase some local products and souvenirs.
A few meters away, you’ll find Silves Cathedral, the most important Gothic construction in the Algarve that is also considered to be the best religious monument from this period in southern Portugal. You can also visit the interior, where you will find various architectural styles intertwined. The apse and transept have Gothic ogival vaults and the side altars have Baroque carved decoration.
If you’re enjoying the historical vibe of this area, you can’t miss the opportunity to visit the Silves Municipal Archaeology Museum. This Museum opened in 2008 and contains a dynamic exhibition about the 20th century in Sines in historical, ethnographic, and development terms. As part of this museum, you can also visit The Vasco da Gama house, a part of the museum with multimedia equipment where you can learn about the biography of the famous Vasco da Gama, the places where he lived in this castle, and the importance of his deeds for the History of Mankind.
After this, if you want to know some of the products, you can stop by the Municipal Market. The Municipal Market is a relatively recent construction, it has the city’s coat of arms standing out next to the entrance portico in the shape of a medieval tower. The market is open from Monday to Saturday, always in the morning, so you can stop by and buy fresh produce from the region.
A tour of Silves is not complete without visiting the Castle, one of the best viewpoints over the city and the region. It was built in 1424 during the Reign of D. João I and served as an important lookout and defense point of the Alentejan area, and it is believed that it was in the castle keep that the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama was born. Since 1933, Sines Castle has been classified as a Site of Public Interest and has therefore undergone some restoration work. You can visit the castle from Tuesday to Sunday and admission is free.
Where to Stay in Silves: 5 Best Hotels in Silves
An adults-only bed & breakfast located 5 kilometers from Misericordia Church offers trendy studios, apartments, and suites. The property features a restaurant, garden, and a patio, as well as free WiFi. Some of the units come equipped with a satellite flat-screen TV, a fully equipped kitchenette with a dishwasher, and a private bathroom with a bidet.
A 180 m2 holiday home, Casa Amada is a two-bedroom villa in Silves, around 2 kilometers away from Misericordia Church. This luxury villa features a balcony, barbecue, terrace, and private pool with views of the countryside. The villa has 2 bedrooms, a kitchen with a dishwasher and microwave, a flat-screen TV, a living room, and two bathrooms with a bidet.
A 3-bedroom villa surrounded by greenery, Casa do Planato by Patio 25 is a 250m2 holiday home located less than 4 kilometers from Misericordia Church. This stunning villa features an outdoor swimming pool, a garden, a barbecue, and extra-long beds for added luxury, as well as 3 bathrooms. The villa comes equipped with bed linen, a flat-screen TV, air conditioning, a dining area, and a fully equipped kitchen.
A 300m2 holiday villa, this property comes with 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and can sleep up to 10 people. The large villa features a private pool, garden area, and a balcony, as well as air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a patio. The property is located less than 3 kilometers from the City Doors and the Misericordia church.
A quaint bed & breakfast, Quinta da Luz features an outdoor swimming pool with loungers, a bar, and a patio. The units come equipped with a comfortable seating area, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, and a private bathroom. Guests can enjoy a lovely breakfast every morning on the premises.
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