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"The former Moorish capital of the Algarve" Top 5 Page for this destination Algarve Things to Do Tip by Gerrem

Algarve Things to Do: 168 reviews and 252 photos

  Cathedral & Castle
by Gerrem

The origin of this town traces back to some 1.000 BC and it was already a notable place in Roman times. During the Moorish occupation in the early 11th Century it was given the name of Xelb. They constructed lavish palaces and it became the cultural centre of learning for the whole Iberian Peninsula under the mantle of Cordoba in Spain. In 1189 it had already 15.000 inhabitants, when the city was sacked by the Knights of Santiago with support of Anglo-Norman crusaders. The importance of Silves continued under the control of the Portuguese kings until the 15th Century, when its commerce began to shrink due to the sitting-up of the Rio Arcade, Silves access to the sea.

The earthquake of 1755 destroyed most of the town and its historic buildings. The remains of the Moorish castle are still impressive, and the huge underground water reservoir is still used by the city today. An archaeological museum has been constructed above this cistern showing local objects including items from the Stone Age. The Ponte Romana, a stone bridge over the Rio Arcade was rebuilt in the 15th Century from the original erected during the Roman occupation. On the site of a Mosque the Cathedral was built in the 13th Century and suffered significant alteration over the time.

Directions: District: Silves
Postal Code: 8300
Distance from Faro: 62 km
Residents: 10.900

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jun 16, 2005
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