Wonder back in time to the era of the Portuguese Discoveries. We start our day tour in Silves, Algarve’s Moorish capital, visit Lagos, and finish in Sagres, on the southwestern tip of Europe.
We start our tour in Silves, the former Moorish capital of the Algarve, under the name of Shielb. The city rises clustered around the red-stone walls of one of the Algarve’s most well-preserved castles. Crowning the hill, it dominates the plains and the banks of the River Arade.
The Islamic heritage is very striking, due to the city’s importance when it was part of the Al Garb of the Al Andaluz, the powerful caliphate that dominated the Iberian peninsula for centuries.
According to some authors, by the 11th century, when Silves was the capital of the Algarve, it surpassed Lisbon in size and importance. The city was also a significant centre of culture, home to poets, chroniclers, and lawmakers.
The appeal of Silves lies beyond its rich heritage. The fertile lands around the River hold a wealth of orange orchards, perfuming the air when in blossom, and the streets of white houses reflect the sun and the blue sky.
We cannot leave Silves without trying a “Morgado”, a typical delicacy of the Algarve countryside, using the local figs and almonds.
Our next stop is the cosmopolitan city of Lagos, once a landmark of the Portuguese Discoveries, and refuge of pirates. Due to its unique bay and port, directly across from Africa, Lagos became a major point of departure and arrival for the ships that set sail in the discovery of new worlds. From here, Henry the Navigator dreamed of unknown lands and vast richness.
Today, Lagos is a cosmopolitan city with a relaxed atmosphere, making it one of the most appealing locations in the Algarve. It is well worth visiting the city’s churches, museums, the castle, and the walls.
We then head to Sagres, the legendary promontory. In 350 A.D. it was described by the Roman Rufus Festus Avienos: “vigorous cape, where sidereal light goes down, emerges proudly at the extreme point of rich Europe and goes into the saltwater of the ocean, inhabited by monsters.
There is then a promontory with frightening cliffs dedicated to Saturn. The choppy seas boil and the rocky coast stretches for a long way”. Almost 22 centuries later we can still relate to its magic and splendour.
The fortress celebrates the Prince Henry the Navigator: it was from here that he started the epic dream of daring the sea to find New Worlds, starting what we know today as globalization.
Very close is Cabo de S. Vicente, with a chapel, a convent, the fortress, and the lighthouse, in the most south-westerly point in Portugal and in Europe.
The cliffs are a vertiginous 60 meters high, dropping down into the furious spray of the waves. You can see from above fierce men climbing the rocks, and defying the Atlantic pounding waves to harvest goose barnacles in a very dangerous catch.
This a tour where the past merges with the present, making of every moment an enduring memory.
Find secret places and special moments off the beaten path and discover the Algarve others do not know about!