Discover the castles of the Algarve
Some of the most impressive features of the Algarve are its magnificent castles. There are many different examples built during its varied history, and each offers a different experience for tourists.
The Algarve was first inhabited by settlers from North Africa around 2000 BC. It was one of the earliest naval trading ports in the world, and
as such became a strategic focus of various tribes such as the Conii and the Celts.
In the mid 3rd century, Romans fought their way into the Algarve and modernised it with their roads and other technologies. After 600 years the Visigoths drove the Romans out of the Algarve and took control of Portugal, Spain and Southern France. However they too had soon been driven out by invaders. These were the Moors, a Muslim people from the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa who took control and stayed for over 500 years. Their architecture still covers the region today, especially in the form
> of castles. During the Crusades, the Moors were finally driven out and a line of Christian Kings ruled the province until 1910 when the Portuguese Republic was proclaimed.
In order to defend their lands, the various settlers of the Algarve built strong fortifications including many castles. These castles are now bastions of national heritage and are one of the primary attractions
for tourists. Some of the most popular are detailed below.
Tavira Castle is a great example of a once great Moorish fortification. The ruins of three towers and high stone walls remain, and are
> complemented by wonderful gardens. It is free to visit and offers
> picturesque views across the old town of Tavira.
The restored walls of Loule Castle in the town by the same name are small and there is not much of the actual structure left to see. However it has an interesting museum which recreates many of the features of the old castle. As a result this is a good place for families with children.
A real beauty spot is the ruins of the Moorish Paderne Castle south of the village of Paderne. It is an atmospheric sandstone structure that glows
> red in sunsets and can be appreciated from nearby tavernas with a drink in hand.
Some other excellent castles to visit include Alcoutim, Fortaleza de
Sagres, Aljezur, Fortaleza Cacelha Velha and Salir. But by far the most
> popular, famous and majestic of the castles is the Silves Castle. This was
> built by the Moors on Roman fortifications from red sandstone which makes it both historically interesting and visually stunning. Indeed it is
> visible from most of the major roads into Silves as it towers above the city and casts an ominous shadow of power over the land. It consists of eleven towers, two entrances defended by huge gates and thick walls.
As one of the hardest to capture, this castle has a rich history in battles
> that is ably conveyed in its on-site museum.
For those interested in booking "
"Cheap Algarve Holidays in order
to witness some of these amazing castles, there are a few considerations to
> bear in mind. It is easily accessible from anywhere in Europe, with an
> efficient road network connecting it to the rest of the continent. For comfort and convenience, air travel is the obvious choice. Most major
> airports have flights into Faro airport which is located only 4km from the
> city and is an excellent place to get started in the Algarve as it is the administrative centre. Alternatively, it is possible to take flights to
> any region in Portugal and make your way south to the Algarve. Other
> options include rail travel and sea travel, the latter of which is a popular option as the Algarve has a rich tradition in seafaring.
On arrival, the most popular places to stay are the beaches and resorts found in tourist brochures. Central Algarve is less windy and usually
> warmer, so is a good bet off season. Lagos is a particular tourist favourite as it is well developed but not yet `spoilt`.