Today we decided to take an excursion with our favorite taxi driver, Sonya, to a nearby town 10 kms away called Silves. Dating to Roman times, it became the capital of the Algarve under Moorish rule (700-1100 ad) and was the military stronghold of the nation. The crowning glory of the town is the largest Moorish castle in Portugal. Made of red sandstone, it is impressive, unique and once contained the palace of the sultan. Walking around the castle walls and climbing the turrets gives a commanding view over the river and surrounding countryside. Complete with gardens, underground grain silos and cistern wells, soldiers were self-sufficient here inside the castle for up to a year.
Next to the castle is the cathedral of Silves. Dating to the 13th century, it predates decorative stained glass but still had lovely tall and narrow gothic windows with colored glass. The cathedral has not been modernized in any way… floors still bear the worn footpaths of worshipers in the rock, statues are faded and dusty giving the church an even more ancient feel.
Lunch was at Marisqueria Rui, the #1 rated seafood restaurant in the Algarve. We were lucky to get there when we did to find a table… ten minutes later the place was packed with locals (a sign of good food) noisily bashing their crabs and with little wooded mallets. I had sea snails! …and they were awesome.
For the next hour, we souvenir shopped and stopped for a cool drink at a local craft brewery. Then time for our taxi return to Ferragudo and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon on the terrace watching the sun sinking the Atlantic. It was a great day.
Here are the photo highlights of Day 7 – Silves