Silves, Portugal - Places to Visit
While on holiday, it's important to make the most of every moment you spend exploring a place like Portugal.
With its rich culture and history, Silves Village in itself has so much to offer travelers, whether you're an everyday history buff or just looking to immerse yourself a bit further into the colorful local customs of this beautiful destination.
If you're trying to plan your itinerary, here are some attractions you may enjoy
seeing in the area.
#1 Castle of Silves
This brooding castle is hard to miss as you travel around the area. Seen on the cover of tourism brochures and in plenty of local artwork, this castle sits on the top of a noble hill. The castle forms the civil parish for the Silves and its origin has been traced far back through time. Many believe that the first fortifications of the castle were built on top of a Lusitanian Castro by Visigoth or Romans.
Not only is it the largest castle you can find in Algarve, it’s also the best preserved because it is the most important of all of them, from a historical perspective. Definitely bring along your camera as you enjoy touring the inside, looking over the grounds, and of course taking the obligatory shot of you proudly standing out front of this tremendous piece of history.
#2 Silves Cathedral
Located right in the city of Silves is yet another architectural wonder and historical attraction. The Silves Cathedral may have a very obvious and explanatory name, but its rich history is one that can’t simply be glanced over. It was built in Algarve during the Moorish rule of the Iberian Peninsula.
It has always stood here, originally as a mosque, but then was later reconstructed and turned into a Catholic cathedral. Ever since the Reconquista, that is what it has been seen as by locals, travelers, and worshippers alike.
#3 Municipal Archeology Museum Silves
This is a fairly small museum, but it is packed to the brim with historical objects that hold great significance for Silves and Portugal in general. You can find deals that will allow you to get in for free when you buy a ticket to view the castle. However, admission prices are fair otherwise.
You can go into the old well that's located inside and walk the halls looking at the cases of artifacts--many of which are still being pieced together as archaeologists work backward through time and continue to uncover more and more intriguing facts about the Algarve region of Southern Portugal.
Even if you aren’t a history buff per se, it’s worth stopping by and getting a glimpse into the long and varied history of this location.
#4 Convent of Saint Joseph
This is a former convent but now functions as Lagoa’s cultural center that is open to visitors of all backgrounds and interests. It is located in the civil parish of Lagoa, which is a beautifully urbanized section of the city of Lagoa.
A stone’s throw from Silves, it’s definitely worth heading out this way to get a glance at this historical building that encompasses so much culture. You’ll get to see local pieces from nearby artisans that are being showcased in the gallery room and you can buy some jam or other homemade deliciousness from the shop.
Books, statues, and so much more will try to steal your attention away inside as you inspect the architecture itself, but don't forget to go up to the top and look out over the natural landscape that stretches on mile after mile. It's a sight worth seeing regardless of what brought you to Portugal.
#5 Cruz de Portugal
It's incredible to think that anyone would visit Silves without heading over to Cruz de Portugal, but many don't even know it exists. Although most tourists will proudly be directed to walk the cobbled streets and check out the medieval castles, very few are aware of Cruz de Portugal, which translates into the Cross of Portugal.
While it may not be the most exciting attraction in the area for many, but it's worth stopping to see it if you're going to be nearby. Take the chance to get out and walk around this statue, which is protected by a fenced gazebo to ensure no one comes near to harm or vandalize it. It's beautiful and intricate with a design worth a photograph or two, and it's located right on the main road that takes you from Silves to São Bartolomeu de Messines.
In front of what's now the judicial law courthouses, the sculpture was declared a national monument of Portugal back in 1910. It's considered one of Portugal's most beautiful pieces of gothic art, but only a wooden roof is there to protect it. That's why most people just passing by it would never be able to guess on its importance.
This cross has been here since 1824, however, no one has been able to document why it’s here or who made it. What is known is that it’s made from yellow/white limestone, which doesn’t originate from Algarve. The cross dates back to the 15th century, and that makes it all the more interesting.
Crosses traditionally are structured to mark religious, military, or historical feat, the Cruz de Portugal has an unknown purpose.
#7 Silves Old Town
When you are along the coast of Silves, it's easy to be overwhelmed by all of the built-up resorts that may remind you of the hustle and bustle of home life. If you want to escape the main tourist area and dig deeper into the culture of Silves, coming to Old Town is a great decision whether you choose to spend a day here or most of your stay.
In Silves Old Town, things just move more slowly. You might spend your day meandering the roads as you enjoy the buildings, the people, and everything within them, only taking a brief pause to sit down and enjoy a coffee or refreshing beverage at one of the pavement cafes.
The historical section of Silves Old Town is backed to a brooding hill where the Castle of Silves proudly overlooks the area. A muscular gate still remains through time, ushering you as you go on to the steep Rua da Sé.
Be sure to stop at the town hall which is located on a refined square near the gate. There, you will get the chance to see the pillory, which stands as a monument to the autonomy for the town. This is where criminals used to be punished by the public.
#8 Mercado Municipal
Maybe you didn't come for the sandy beaches, the rich history, or even the local architecture. Perhaps you came to Silves to immerse yourself within a rich culture that is still very much alive today. If that's the case, there's no better place to go to experience that culture first-hand than a bustling market.
A true statement for any place in Portugal, you won’t find any better glimpse into the everyday life of a person living in Silves than by visiting a marketplace like Mercado Municipal. This marketplace is humming with active buyers and bargainers six days out of every week. You might not need fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, or meat, but it’s still worth strolling through.
Saturday is definitely the busiest time to visit, which could be a positive or a disadvantage depending on your plans. The reason why Saturday is always so busy is because that's the day when marketers come from all over Algarve. If it's busier, anticipate the need for some smiling patience and a slow shuffle as you move from one stand to another. Don't be afraid to wait in line, as the goods always prove worth it!
Whether you’re shopping or not, be sure to take pause in order to witness the friendly haggling between farmer and fisherman and the animated conversation that will remind you, no matter how big beautiful destinations like Silves grow, some things never change.