Faro: Where past crossroads with the future
Faro is Algarve’s provincial capital, and is usually seen as a transitional spot for tourists heading to explore the region. Those who take the time to explore Faro Portugal area will find sights with rich history and soak in the atmosphere of the local vibrant culture. In order to fully explore the Faro region, we advise visitors to pick up a rental car and take their time to soak in the local culture, gastronomy and amazing beaches.
Faro Algarve region is clearly distinct, with the past existing harmoniously with the current times. The Cidade Velha (Old City) of Faro is Portugal’s history retained respectfully for all to enjoy. Situated in the south-east of the local harbor, the Cidade Velha is Algarve’s fortified city of the past, where the compact blocks continue to be bordered by the ancient walls. The entrance can be reached at Arco da Vila, just across the peaceful and beautiful gardens in Jardim Manuel Bivar, overlooking the harbor front.
Right in the heart of the Old City of Faro you can find Largo da Se, the cathedral which is famed for its orange-grove lined walkways. The humble looking but stately cathedral belies intricate carvings, art pieces and decorated tiles unique to Portugal, known as azulejos which are safeguarded since centuries ago. The first Christian church to be built in Algarve, it now shelters a 18th century organ with Oriental motifs and a wide range of pitch, that has been played by the leading organists of Europe.
The cathedral faces the Paco Episcopal, or the Bishop’s Palace and the elegant seminary built in the 18th century. Both still function according to their respective roles but are not open to public visits. The belltower from the cathedral is known to offer clear views of roofs in pyramid shapes, known as ‘tesouro’ that are unique to Portugal.
The Municipal Museum within the Old City of Faro is another attraction, for history fans, who will be delighted with the collection of various archaeological findings, ranging from medieval, Roman and Manueline stone carvings, among other intriguing exhibits.
Stepping outside the Old City, you will be greeted by stylish cafes, restaurants and shops along Rua de Santo Antonio, a couple of streets north of the Arco da Vila. Amidst the bustling young generation of residents, historic monuments and museums stand tall with impressive facades. The baroque facade of Igreja do Carmo and Sao Pedro’s magnificent altarpiece are just some of the interesting sights in Faro, Algarve has to offer.
Its museums include the Ethnographic Museum (Museu Etnografico) which takes visitors to enjoy a nostalgic journey into the traditional life of locals in Faro Portugal region. The Maritime Museum, very near to the bus station, is part of the harbor landscape and houses an interesting collection of maritime exhibits, including models of vessels used in the Age of Discovery.
With much to learn of Portugal’s history, the time spent to enjoy the city before Algarve’s other attractions will not be in vain.