Flashback Friday: Faro, Portugal

Faro is the capital of Portugal's Algarve region. It boasts a long history back to pre-historic times. From the earliest settlements wealthy and powerful Romans, Visigoths, Moors, the Portuguese, the British, and finally the Portuguese Catholic Church have all conquered and lived in this region over the centuries. Who can blame them? This is a beautiful coastline with some of the best beaches in all of Portugal

Shortly after the first Portuguese conquest, the resident Moorish population was granted full civil and economic rights. During this time, the most important part of the town was still the Inner Town, surrounded by the city wall where only the ruling Christians were permitted to live. Outside the city wall there were two other important quarters: the Moorish Quarter and the Jewish Quarter (situated where the shopping streets are now). The first book pressed in Portugal, a Jewish torah, was pressed in Faro.


Rather than start from scratch, the Portuguese Catholic Church just took over the previous mosque and threw up a statue. Ospreys use the church as a perch for their nests.

We were only in Faro overnight on our way to Seville in Spain but wanted enough time to check out famous Algarve Region, known for it's beautiful beaches, quaint fishing villages, and a plethora of golf clubs. We arrived early and located our hostel, Baixa Terrace Hostel, easily. We were thoroughly charmed by the rooftop deck/bar where breakfast would be served. We were certain we would be sharing a bottle of wine on that rooftop before we left Faro. We dropped our bags and soon were heading off to explore the harbour area and the Moorish Quarter.

Faro was a very quiet little place, although we learned we had just missed a very boisterous group of motorcycle enthusiasts who had a gathering in the town. From the size of the kiosks, stages, and bar areas that were being dismantled that was a major event. I'm not sorry we missed it.


We enjoyed walking along the river outside the walls of the Old Town and made note of a restaurant that promised the best sunset view in town.


Faro is an intriguing place. Mixed in with lovely residential homes are complete ruins. The town has obviously seen more prosperous days but seems to be undergoing regeneration.

At one time in history, Faro was walled. Those walls were destroyed by a combination of warfare and earthquake. Each occupier would work to increase security. One of the bastions in the curtain around Faro. This one now sits amid residential homes as the town grew up around it.

We headed to Jardim de Alameda, a pretty park and local gathering area. The gardens here are planted with lots of native plant species and, like many public spaces in Portugal, home to a flock of peacocks.

I thought this was a brilliant idea to encourage people to get a little exercise while enjoying the park.

Of course we couldn't visit the Algarve region and not have a beach day. We took a bus to the beach and enjoyed an afternoon of swimming and playing in the waves. The public beach was crowded. The streets along the beach are lined with restaurants, cafés, souvenir shops, and other beach-touristy fare. Chairs and umbrellas can be rented. We, and most of the other beach-goers, chose to spread our towels on the sand, leaving rows and rows of empty beach chairs.

For dinner, we returned to the O Castillo Restaurant for dinner and to take advantage of the "best sunset in all of Faro".

I have to agree, this is a spectacular view.



Overall, it was a pleasant visit but I wouldn't go out of my way to return again. We didn't plan to see much as we were looking for more of a quiet respite day between long days of travel. Neither Mady or I are huge beachgoers; we enjoy a swim at the end of the day but a day spent laying on the beach is very rare. We thoroughly enjoyed our brief stop and a day of relative rest and relaxation.


 

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