Day Trips around Lagos
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Where else to go.
|The two mountains to the north of Portimão are
known as the Serra de Monchique. The higher of the two is Foia, and the other Picota. They
are the remnants of Jurassic volcanoes.
The Rocha Negra - Black Rock - of Praia da Luz is an
intrusion of the lava from those volcanos.
The village of Monchique lies on the slopes of Foia, and around here there are several restaurants offering Chicken Piri-piri, a grilled or barbecued chicken marinated in a hot pepper sauce.
Below the village are the Caldas de Monchique, the mineral water springs utilised since Roman times. A Bishop built a Hospital here, for the benefit of those wishing to take the waters. King João II came here, in 1495, in the hope that the treatment could alleviate his illness. Nowadays Monchique water is bottled and sold.
On the top of Foia are the radio and television masts which serve the Algarve, and from here it is said that you can see Lisbon, if the weather is fine. Like all mountains, however, these attract clouds, mist and haze and it would be an exceptional day to see that far. If it is, in anyway, fine, magnificent views stretch away to the south and the sea.
Silves, to the east of Monchique, lies on the River
Arade, which flows down to the sea at Portimão. In earlier times the river was navigable
up to this point by fairly large vessels. Today there are trips there in the traditional
Portuguese 'canoes' which depart from Portimão.
Crowning the hill overlooking the river is the Castle of Silves, which was the Alhambra of the Al-Gharb. The knights of the re-conquest, under King Sancho I, attacked and took the castle in 1189. The Moors shortly regained possession of their capital and despite numerous assaults the city held out until 1266, when Dom Paio Peres Correia conquered this last outpost of Arab rule in the Algarve.
Just inside the city walls is an archaeological museum, set up around the Moorish Town well.
The Cathedral of Silves is on the road from here, back down to the river.
The town of Aljezur lies on the Lagos to Lisbon road. From here a road may be taken cross-country to Marmelete and the Serra de Monchique.
|Aljezur 'Castle'||View towards the coast|
The most striking feature is the castle set on top of the hill overlooking the town. This is, in fact, not a castle with keep and bailey and quarters for soldiers, but the original fortified town. Recent archaeological excavations have found that the Moors first constructed it in the late 8th Century. When the Christians conquered the Algarve, Aljezur nearly held out until the fall of Silves.
In the 14th Century, new houses were constructed in the castle on top of the Moorish foundations, keeping to the basic layout, but now butting directly onto the walls covering the Arabic walkway which had previously lain around the inner circumference.
Aljezur from the castle gate
A 13th century house wall
Gradually the town spread out of its bounding walls and down the hill. The second part of the town, constructed on the other side of the river, owes its location to a Bishop, who considered that the West bank was unhealthy.
|The 'new' town||Aljezur Church|
|A good day out, especially for the young and active, is a visit to a Waterslide Park, of which there are three west of Faro in the Algarve. This is the nearest.|
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