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PLACES OF INTERESTDISCOVER THE UNIVERSE ALGARVE
With its white houses reaching down to the banks of the Arade river, Ferragudo is a picturesque fishing village located opposite Portimão with which it once shared responsibility for defending this stretch of coastline. This was secured by fortresses on either side that could establish a crossfire to defend these settlements from any enemy naval attack.
Next to Ferragudo, the large expanse of sand does justice to its name, Praia Grande (Big Beach) and features excellent conditions for a range of nautical sports including schools for learning how to surf and windsurf.
In Lagos, everything seems to invite you to the beach and the simple pleasures of life. But there are also stories of sailors and pirates, the result of a relationship with the sea that is maintained in the colourful trawlers that still bring fish to the market, and the Marina where yachts from all over the world are moored.
Although built on the site of earlier constructions, some of the main monuments are from this era, such as the Governors’ Castle. Or the City walls and the Ponta da Bandeira Fort, which protected the town from invaders, particularly buccaneers, and which today offer beautiful views over the houses and the sea. It was also in Lagos, under the arcades of Praça Infante D. Henrique, that the first slave market in Europe was held, in a space now transformed into a cultural centre for exhibitions and the sale of handicrafts.
Vilamoura is nowadays one of the biggest centres in Europe.
Golf, tennis, horse-riding, equipment to go shooting and fishing, a casino and an aerodrome are complemented by a tourist complex where the big star is the marina.
Not only for its size – the biggest in the country, with 1300 moorings – and its exceptional infrastructures, but also for its visual beauty and its waterfront, where bars, hotels, restaurants and a yacht club comprise the attractions for those who pass by. The marina is the fashionable hangout for the tourist complex.
Cabo Carvoeiro is located on the far western corner of the peninsular of Peniche, in a zone of great beauty due to the curious geological formations that have been sculpted by the sea over time, such as the Nau dos Corvos, a large boulder which resembles a giant, half-shipwrecked vessel.
This site offers spectacular views over the sea and the Berlenga islands, and is also an excellent spot for observing sea birds.
The white contour of a church on a hilltop, the narrow streets of the old fishermen and tradesmen quarter, the presence of the sea and the immense beach known by the name of Praia da Rocha are some of the aspects that identify the character of this centenary city.
All that is left of medieval Portimão are a few stretches of the city walls now hidden by houses. The old town is dominated by the architecture of the late 19th and 20th centuries: houses on two storeys, with wrought iron balconies and ornate stonework around windows and doors, decorated with balustrades of stone and ceramics and walls covered with tiles.
To savour the spirit of Portimão, there is nothing better than to sit in the shade of the trees in the gardens Manuel Bívar and forget about time, to watch the fishing boats and to walk trough streets and squares that exude the ambience of an active, hard-working town which has succeeded in keeping pace with progress.
The progress has turned Albufeira into a city with tourism and leisure as its vocation but the streets in the hold Cerro da Vila (mediaeval area) still preserve the picturesque appeal of whitewashed houses and steeply narrow streets. In Travessa da Igreja Velha, an old moorish arch indicates the place where stood a primitive mosque, later transformed in the town’s first church.
On the beach, the bright colours of the fishing boats contrast with the blue of the sea. Indifferent to the tourists sunbathing nearby, the fishermen carry on the task of mending and preparing the nets, as they have done for hundreds of years.
A walk by the sea will offer you a magnificent view over the city, the beaches and the cliffs which are part of the charm of Albufeira. The sidewalk leads to the pretty cave at Xorino, where according to the local tradition the Moors took refuge when the town was reconquered by the Christians in the 13th century.