Silves – Travelling back in time

This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch) Português (Portuguese (Portugal))

Back online!

Today, I am thrilled, because we are back online! I have to admit that it was a tense period because it seemed that everything was lost… But with the help of some specialists, I managed to restore my site completely, so we can continue🙏.

Today, we’ll stay close to home, because even here in the Algarve, there is still a lot to see, such as the town of Silves. In this small fortified town, situated at the river Arade, it seems as if time has stood still. In some streets, it feels like you’re back in the Middle Ages.


Silves is perfect for a short, day trip, but make sure you wear comfortable/flat shoes, because walking the steep streets with “shiny” calçada stones is a challenge in itself. How often have I walked back to my car barefoot after a night out at Café Inglês? 😊

Café Inglês

Café Inglês is a beautiful combination of restaurant, bar and cultural centre, where art and music play a significant role. You can often enjoy live music on the cosy terrace while enjoying a snack and a drink. In short, Café Ingelês is worth a visit.

Castelo dos Mouros

When you arrive at Silves, the first thing you’ll notice is the beautiful medieval castle and cathedral that rise above the city. It is always a beautiful sight.

The red-brick castle of Silves was built between the 8th and 13th centuries. In 1189, King Sancho I (you’ll find his statue at the entrance) conquered the Moors and took the city, but the battle was not over yet, as the city was recaptured by the Moors in 1191. It was not until 1253, during the reign of King Afonso, that Silves fell definitively into Christian hands.

Ponte Romana

Today, we start our walk from the large car park, located diagonally opposite the Lidl. From here, we walk along the river “Arade” towards the “Ponte Romana,” also called “Ponte de Silves.”

This beautiful Roman bridge, built in the 14th century, is not really Roman…😉 but there is a suspicion that there was, at some point, a Roman bridge on the same spot. Silves was once the capital of the Algarve but, due to the silting up of the river Arade, lost this status partly as this reduced the city’s economic importance.

Mercado Municipal Silves

We now cross the street, and our first stop is the local market, which has been very recently renovated. I really like the results! Fresh and cheerful but with an authentic Portuguese “touch.”

I always get very greedy surrounded by all these fresh products, like the most beautiful fish, delicious spicy tomatoes and colourful citrus fruits. Did you know that Silves is also called the orange capital? Portugal’s best oranges and mandarins grow in large quantities on the fertile hills around Silves.

The orange came to Portugal from China in the 15th century. This is the reason that in several European countries, such as Greece and Turkey, an orange is called a “Portugal”

Portuguese citrus fruits

Praça do Municipio

Halfway between the river and the castle, we pass the Largo do Munícipio, where the town hall of Silves is located. It is a pleasant square and a good place for a pit stop at Café da Rosa. To the right of the town hall, you can see the old gateway to the town, the “Torreâo das Portas da Cidade,” a wonderfully well-preserved piece of history.

The entire centre of Silves is a maze of narrow, picturesque streets paved with the famous Portuguese Calçada stones. Climbing slowly up towards the cathedral and the castle, you will pass beautifully tiled façades and beautifully decorated doors.


While strolling through these streets, you will often hear a clattering sound… This sound is produced by the beaks of storks, who communicate with each other in this way and declare their love❣ A large group of storks found their “home” in Silves. You will find their nests on towers and roofs all over town. You can’t miss them!

Sixty percent of the Portuguese storks no longer winter in Africa. Warm winters (as a result of climate change) make the birds more homely. Not everyone is happy with these “neighbours,” because they can be quite noisy and leave a lot of rubbish behind (but I think they are wonderful).

Sé de Silves and Castelo dos Mouros

Once at the top, your efforts will be rewarded with a magnificent view of the Cathedral – called “Sé de Silves” – and the castle, “Castelo dos Mouros.” When the Moors ruled Silves, the Sé (Cathedral) was a mosque. During the earthquake of 1755, the Sé de Silves was severely damaged and later rebuilt in Gothic and Baroque style.

Both the Cathedral and the Castle can be visited; a ticket for the Castle costs € 2.80.

Praça Al-Mutamid

On the way back, we take the path opposite the steps to Café Inglês, where you can enjoy some beautiful views. Once back down in town, we end our walk at the square “Praça Al-Mutamid,” named after Al-Mutamid, who – at the age of 13 – ruled over Silves in the 11th century. It is unbelievable, but it seems he did so with great success! Later, he dedicated his life to poetry, which he also did with considerable success, becoming known as the “Rei-Poeta de Sevilha;” translated, this means the King of Poetry of Sevilha, where he became king after his return to Spain.

The sculptures in this square depict Arab people who lived in Xelb (Silves) in the 11th century

Festival Medieval Silves

Last, but not least, the Medieval Festival of Silves! I can hardly imagine a better setting for a big, medieval festival. Okay, I have to be fair… Santa Maria de Feira is also a perfect location (see my blog, “A Blind Date in Porto”), but Silves is undoubtedly a very good alternative

The sculptures in this square depict Arab people who lived in Xelb (Silves) in the 11th century

The atmosphere of the event is such that you feel like you have stepped into a time machine and travelled back a few hundred years: people are dressed in medieval costumes, there are horse tournaments and medieval combat performances, entertainment, music, dancers and many other surprises. There are snake charmers, acrobats and jugglers, and there is also a medieval market. Of course, there are plenty of food and drinks available 😉 . You can sit down on straw bales to enjoy your dinner, snack or drink.


And, if all that is not enough, you can, like me, pay a visit to the fortune-teller, who somehow inexplicably predicted a few things correctly! Usually, the festival starts in the second week of August and lasts 10 days.

And where should we eat in Silves? Well, I always find that very difficult to say, because it is also a matter of personal taste. However, for me, Marisqueira Rui is still number one! In my opinion, this is the best place to enjoy delicious seafood and fish and amiable staff.

And for those who are not big fans of fish, I recommend chicken at Churrasqueira Valdemar !

Ciao !

This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch) Português (Portuguese (Portugal))



  • Nicki 02/05/2022 at 10:40 am Reply

    Joke, you have completely captured the atmosphere of Silves. Finally I hope to come to visit this year and definitely a visit to the Café Inglês is on the cards – maybe an evening meal too! See you soon. Nickixx

    • johanna 05/06/2022 at 2:52 pm Reply

      Looking forward to seeing you again! And we must definitely do a visit to Cafá Inglês!

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