The Algarve is a region of Portugal with a rich culture, where you can see people’s way of living through their arts and music. Nowadays, one can still see the Moorish influences in the culture of Portugal and the legacy of five centuries of Arab rule. Symbols of the local heritage include the decorative chimneys, the Algarvian rooster (also the national symbol) and the painted tiles (Azulejos).
Pottery and Ceramics
The culture of Portugal is famous for its pottery and ceramics, particularly hand-painted pottery and azulejos or tiles. There are numerous ceramics and pottery outlets throughout the Algarve. For working potteries/ ceramics workshops the main, or best-known, pottery centers are located in the towns of Almancil, Porches and Loulé. But there are many other potteries and workshops in the Algarve region.
Some of the traditions of the Algarve, are the manufacture of wicker baskets and pottery, the fishing art (mainly seen in Olhão), the popular saints’ celebrations, the groups of Charolas (popular musicians groups). Also not to be missed of the culture of Portugal, are many churches and castles built in previous centuries. The local culture and many of its representing works are preserved in museums in the major coastal centres and in smaller inland towns.
Music and dance
Music and dance in the culture of Portugal are the cultural expressions that best reflect the soul of a people. In the Algarve the tourist flag is the “Corridinho” a cheerful version of folklore. The tinkle of the triangle and the sound of the accordion gives way to the dancers that come on the scene with a bright eye under the black felt hat ready to show how the Algarve dances the “Corridinho”.
On the first day of every year, people sing the Janeiras (New Year’s carols), a mix of popular songs and religious themes.
Typical for the culture of Portugal is Easter which brings the famous ‘folar’, the traditional Easter bread (delicious fine bread made with fennel), sugared almonds and religious processions and celebrations. The most important Easter processions are the Mãe Soberana (Sovereign Mother) celebration in Loulé and the Festa das Tochas Floridas, (Flower Torch Festival) in São Brás de Alportel.
Also very special in the culture of Portugal are the celebrations in May – the “Dia de Maio” (May Day), celebrating Spring, nature and abundance. Maio means May in English, so this celebration takes place on the 1st of May. On this special occasion, you will be able to attend some Dia de Maio balls among many types of celebrations, for example, to see human-sized dolls made of clothes, representing local personalities and their professions or habits as a satire.
The culture of Portugal has in August a big celebration called the “29th Bath”. For some reason, on every 29th of August, men and women came from everywhere and gathered at the beach. As nightfall arrived, bonfires were made and holding each other’s hands, men and women headed to the sea for a swim. Men wore long pants and women night dresses. When the swim was over everyone had supper, sang songs and went back home. This tradition is still current today, and people young and old gather around bonfires to celebrate this old tradition.
At the height of autumn, the end of the harvesting period the culture of Portugal has a celebration with traditional “Magusto”, during which people gather to roast and eat chestnuts, accompanied by água-pé (piquette) or jeropiga (sweet, light fortified wine).
Other than the traditional arts and crafts, the culture of Portugal have also many contemporary cultural activities, where locals and visitors can indulge in fine arts exhibits, performance arts, classical and modern music concerts, poetry, drama, dance and festivals. Most cities and towns in the Algarve have a museum and a collection of ancient monuments and buildings. Many towns have at least a cinema and/or a cultural centre where visitors can enjoy regional, national and sometimes internationally acclaimed artists from various disciplines.