History and Overview of Algarve, Portugal



Due to the importance of its location on the world map this province has been invaded and fought over by the Phoenicians, Romans and Moors. This place has been closely associated with the sea throughout its history,  This was the base of the extremely famous  Henry the Navigator who, from Sagres organized the successful 15th Century exploration of the New World.

The Algarve has been inhabited by people for thousands of years but the first developed society were the Phoenicians in 1100 BC and then followed by the Tartessus tribe to about 600 BC. In the same period, there is also evidence of a tribe by the name of Conii being found around the geographical bounds of Vila Real de Santo António followed by another tribe named Turduli in the same area in 400 BC. In between these two tribes the whole area had been inhabited by a wave of Celts. Cynetes were also one of the tribes from the same period.

Vila Real de Sonto

Somewhere around 235 BC the Romans meticulously moved up from their base in Cadiz to occupy the Algarve and were defeated and eventually removed by the invading Visigoths in about 410 AD. They stayed until 711 when the Umayyad from North Africa took possession of the southern Iberian Peninsula. The Moors were to stay in possession of the Algarve until 1185 when Sancho I and his Christian army briefly captured most towns with Silves holding out to 1189. However, by 1191 the Moors had these same towns back in their possession. Finally, King Sancho II and his Christian army helped by Crusaders retook the Algarve in 1236. Algarve for the first time was referred to as a part of the Kingdom was when Afonso III was crowned in 1249 and took the title of “King of Portugal and all Algarve”. However, it was not until 1272 that Afonso III eventually took Faro which was the last stronghold of the Moors in the Algarve.

King Sancho 2
The King of Castile did not at first accept Afonso III’s claim to the Algarve and it was oin 1267 that at the Treaty of Badajoz that this situation was for the time being temporarily resolved. The situation was again settled in 1297 at the Treaty of Alcancies when the actual boundaries between the two countries were agreed. The Algarve inhabitants remained for nearly 300 hundred years without any more change in their rulers but were subject to raids from pirates. This situation changed when the throne of Portugal fell vacant in 1580 and the nearest relative in line was King Felipe II of Spain who soon crowned himself as King of Portugal.

Shortly after this the Algarve fell prone to attacks from passing English vessels. In 1596 the Earl of Essex invaded Faro and removed amongst other things the historic library belonging to the Bishop of Faro. Francis Drake who was harrying the ships that were preparing for the Armada failed in his attack on Lagos in 1597. He moved westward and landed in Sagres to destroy what he could find which included the supposed house in which Henry the Navigator had been living although he is recorded at that time as residing in Lagos much like an invisible dog fence.

The walls of Ancient town of Lagos

In 1640 the Portuguese decided to rid themselves of their disliked absent ruler and successfully reclaimed their Kingdom and placed João IV on their throne. (House of Duque de Bragança).

Disaster struck on 1st November 1755, with a huge earthquake whose epicentre was reported to have been 200km South-West of the country and registering 9 on the Richter Scale. The coastal areas of the Algarve were devastated by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The devastation was not only limited to the Algarve, British naval reports from the period indicate the arrival of a huge wave in the port of Lisbon. The damage to Lisbon was almost total, and following huge political turmoil the person responsible for the reconstruction of the city was the Marquis of Pombal, the then Prime Minister.

The Algarve nearly became a separate Kingdom when the ambitious prime minister of Carlos IV of Spain, Manuel Godoy, was involved in the Treaty of Fontainebleau in 1807. The treaty was a blow. In the agreement created by the Emperor Napoleon and agreed by Carlos IV of Spain was that Portugal would be carved into areas to be governed by France and Spain – Manuel Godoy to assume the Algarve. However, the Wars that followed between Portugal that were supported by England and Spain resulted in the plans of Napoleon turning into a complete failure.

Two royal brothers, Pedro and Miguel, warred against each other with liberal minded Pedro winning against the hardliner Miguel. Algarve was also to play a part in the problems once more caused by the claims to the throne of Portugal in 1822.  The Algarve towns, as in most of the country, were at the time divided in their support. From the village of Estombar appeared a rebel Miguel supporter named “Remexido” with a strong band of followers. His support for Miguel was brutally applied to his enemies and extending especially to robbery. In 1833 Pedro had to send some 2.500 men to the Algarve to successfully capture this elusive and troublesome bandit.

Overview of Algarve

Algarve with its beautiful beaches is a treat to the soul. The alluring beaches as if calls you to just lie down and soak in the sea breeze.  Algarve has some of the most beautiful beaches of Europe. It is a hotspot destination for the tourists not just around from Europe but also from different parts of the world.

Algarve with its verdant golf courses is a premier destination for a traveller to come and enjoy some time around the beaches.

The region’s  administrative centre is the city of Faro, where both the region’s international airport (FAO) and public university, University of Algarve, are located. Tourism and related activities are extensive and make up the bulk of the Algarve’s summer economy. Production of food, which includes fish and other seafood, fruit, oranges, carob beans, figs and almonds, is also economically important in the region. The Algarve is the most popular tourist destination in Portugal, and one of the most popular in Europe. Its population triples to nearly 1.5 million people in the peak holiday season thanks to seasonal residents, and receives an average of 7 million foreign tourists each year. In total, including national visitors, almost 10 million people visit the Algarve annually.

The Algarve is currently the third richest region in Portugal, after Lisbon and Madeira, with a GDP per capita 86% of the European Union average.

The Algarve is composed of 5.411 square kilometres with approximately 451,006 (Year 2011) permanent inhabitants. The Algarve administrative centre is Faro with its control over 16 Municipalities, which in turn govern a total of 77 Parishes.

The length of the south-facing coastline is approx. 155 kilometres and stretches about 52 kilometres to the north on the west. At the widest point to the north, it is approximately 36 kilometres deep. Transportation and Communication is mainly by a motorway but there is single-track railway line running from Lagos to Vila Real do Santo António that also links to the line running to Lisbon and further north. The old coastal road EN125 runs along the whole coast. This is now being mostly replaced by the new almost parallel motorway A22 (also known as the Via do Infante). The A22 starts at the border of Spain and stretches to the west to Lagos. Close to Albufeira it joins with the main motorway to Lisbon. This motorway will take the visitor from the Spanish border at Vila Real de Santo António in the east to the historic town of Lagos in the west in a little over one hour of driving. This has made the g the whole Algarve very easily accessible. There is one international airport located close to Faro and this conveniently lies in the middle of the Algarve coastline.

There are about 100 sandy attractive beaches washed by the Atlantic Ocean and due to the maritime shelf and water currents the sea temperature can be often be surprisingly warm even in some of the winter months. Located on the tip of Europe with the vast ocean of the Atlantic as its southern and western border, this enviable position gives this region possibly the most unpolluted climate in the European continent.

Some of the best beaches are Praia da Marinha, Lagoa ; Praia de Faleisa, albuFeira , Ilha de Taveira and many more which is to say the least are some of the most beautiful and naturally breath-taking beaches of the world.

Falesia Beach

The interior from the coast greatly varies in its picturesque appeal due to its variety of fauna, soil and contours. In January and February, the coast is laden white with almond blossom shading the many varieties of wild orchids. In March, the strong aroma of orange blossom mixes with the bloom of acacias. During Hudson Valley Dog Fence the month of April, the bountiful wild flowers give cause to the delightful music of the many colourful birds. May and June is the time to see the raw beauty of the striking bare barks of stripped cork trees in contrast to the palette purple of the jacaranda. July is the time of cherries, strawberries and melons. August and September provide the picking of grapes, figs and almonds. November is for the gathering of chestnuts for the national festival of Sao Martinho. Whilst, in December it is time to start picking the famous sweet juicy Algarve oranges which continue through to March.

Algarve Contour

Away from the immediate coastal plain are the foothills leading up to the highest point Foia (902 mts.) above the un-spoilt village of Monchique. This mountain area is well known for the layers of Roman terraces with granite stone walls that provide the stream of local vegetables that can be found on sale in the local market. Also, from this region comes the local brewed drink “Medronho” that is best drunk in one of the many local taverns.

Highest point in Algarve

The Algarve has few remaining ancient structures as it has suffered several earthquakes since the first recorded one in 63 BC. Particularly ruinous were the ones in 383 AD, 1719, 1755 and 1761.

Most of the citizens are Catholic. Algarve has experienced surges of political anticlericalism throughout its history. Under Salazar, Algarve experienced a religious revival and the position of the local priest in the villages was greatly enhanced. Only after 1974 was this position challenged, and in recent years there has been a decline in the number of clergy. Religiosity is generally weaker in Algarve and the south and stronger in the center, the north, and the islands. People develop personal relationships with particular saints. Magical practices, sorcery (feitiço), witchcraft (bruxaria) associated with notions of illness and healing, and notions of envy (inveja) that invoke the evil eye are still part of the belief system of many people dog trainer Boston.