Situated 15 kilometers from the coast and nestling in the valley of the Arade River, the fairy-like town of Silves Portugal is dominated by one of the largest and best-preserved castles in southern Portugal – a constant reminder of almost 5 centuries of Moorish rule. This inspiring setting of Silves Portugal is a natural backdrop to a town steeped in history and the prize of successive conquerors. Silves is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Algarve, Algarve Housing rents unique villas in the area of Silves.
Silves Portugal is at the heart of one of Portugal’s best citrus-growing areas. It also has factories processing cork. Although now an agricultural center, its fascination for visitors is historical. Silves Portugal’s two most visible buildings are the red sandstone castle and the red and white cathedral next to it, they are reminders that in medieval times this was the most strongly fortified and most strenuously fought over place in the Algarve.
Silves Portugal has a great deal to offer, blending past and present to create its own unique atmosphere. Magnificent surroundings and the accompanying gentle pace of life combine to provide a memorable and truly remarkable holiday in the Algarve.
Silves Portugal has the biggest castle in the Algarve and the most beautiful military monument to the Islamic period in Portugal. It has its origins in the ramparts built around the town during the Moorish occupation. The red sandstone fortress is open daily (09:00-19:00).
Cathedral Sé Velha (Old Cathedral)
A 13th-century cathedral of Silves Portugal, built of red and white sandstone has fine emblazoned tombs and should not be missed.
Misericórdia (Mercy) Church
This building of Silves Portugal, dates from the 16th century and its Manueline origins are apparent from a highly decorated side doorway positioned above ground level, which was possibly the former entrance to the church. The church of Silves has a collection of mercy banners that are still used in processions.
Bridge over the Arade River (Ponte Romana)
Silves Portugal has a stone bridge over the Rio do Arade and was rebuilt in the 15th Century from the original erected during the Roman occupation. Dating back to the Medieval period, until only a few years ago it was this structure that connected Silves to the coast.
With its back to a section of the city ramparts of Silves, this building contains a well of Moorish origin (11th century) dressed with stone and ‘taipa” that is approx. 60 feet deep and 8.5 feet across. Steps lead in a spiral down to the bottom. The well was blocked up in the 16th century and the house which now contains the museum was built over it. The museum’s collections include archaeological finds from throughout the municipality, including a particularly interesting collection of Moorish ceramics from digs conducted at the castle. A nice museum of Silves Portugal to visit!
The Cross of Portugal
Take the road from Silves to Messines, located next to the old road that used to constitute the link with the north and with the kingdom of Portugal. It is one of the most beautiful crosses in Portugal and has on one side a representation of the crucifixion and on the other the Mater Dolorosa. The base dates from 1824.
Silves in Portugal, located a 15-minute drive from the Algarvian coast, with its famous beaches. Nearby beaches of Silves Portugal are:
Armacao da Pera – a long wide stretched beach that goes from Armacao da Pera all the way to Gale, just before Albufeira. Great beach for walking. Lots of Portuguese tourists visit this beach in the summer.
Albufeira – has many little beaches, see our section Albufeira
Carvoeiro – small, picturesque beach in the middle of this very popular touristy town. The beach is surrounded by golden rock formations.
Benagil – Very nice small beach, surrounded by golden rock formation, and nice cliffs, with superb views of the Atlantic Ocean great for cliff walking
Activities and Events Silves
The main event of Silves Portugal, is the Medieval Festival in August, a 10-day festival. The center of Silves transforms into medieval times, stepping back to the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries.
The streets of the historic town center of Silves, will be bustling with life, exuding a distinctive atmosphere in a unique setting and environment. Along the city’s streets, alleyways, cul-de-sacs and corners, visitors will encounter typical scenes from everyday medieval life. Nice for young ones and adults!
The beautiful landscape of the Algarve invites you to undertake other activities. Activities in and around Silves Portugal:
- outdoor adventures
- scuba diving and snorkeling
- jet skiing and water skiing
- horse riding
Bars and Restaurants Silves
Silves Portugal has many bars and restaurants. At the Quai, along the riverside of Silves, are a few nice bars with terraces. But the nicest terrace you find at Cafe Ingles! We mention a few restaurants worth a visit:
Cafe Ingles – On the foot of the castle you find Cafe Ingles, with a super outside terrace, and beautiful indoor decorations. They serve Mediterranean food. Friday and Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, nice live music. We advise to book a table, as those nights are very popular in Silves.
Ponte Romana – Cross the river of Silves, over the Roman bridge and you find the beautiful, traditional, Portuguese restaurant. They serve traditional Portuguese food and friendly staff.
Marisqueira Rui – in the center of Silves Portugal, you find this fish restaurant, they say the best of the Algarve! The staff is friendly and serves fast (not very Portuguese), as very often people cue up outside, so book ahead! Or just wait between the Portuguese families outside, It does go very fast though! There are only a few tables outside. It is a noisy restaurant, but an experience on its own!
The surroundings of Silves Portugal also have a lot to offer such as theme parks and other tourist attractions. If you want to experience another side of the Algarve, you can make excellent day trips to the West coast or vist the mountains of Monchique. Things to see and to do in the surroundings of Silves Portugal:
- Zoo Marine – a superb theme park with water, animals and spectacular shows
- Krazy World – with a fairground, mini zoo, crazy golf course and swimming pools
- Aqualand – a water park with huge slides and rapids
- Aquashow – with parrots, flamingos and Europe’s biggest wave pool
- Alte – one of the most beautiful villages of the Algarv, about 20 minutes drive from Silves Portugal
- Paderne – a sleepy, charming village with an old castle and church
Algarve Housing rents villas in the Algarve. From luxury villas to rustic cottages, windmills and farmhouses. Please check our central Algarve section, to find your ideal holiday villa near historic Silves in Portugal.