Silves in the
of Portugal was an important centre of commerce dating
back to Phoenician times. The Rio Arade, next to which
the town is situated, providing a vital link to
Portimão on the
coast for merchants to transport their goods.
Such was the importance of
this compact town, fierce and bloody battles were fought
to occupy it. During the 12th century alone,
was under siege, not once, but three
It was the Moors who built the town, known as
Xelb, into an architectural gem, occupying the
town and area for just under 500 years in
relative peace. Arabic chroniclers described the
town as a city filled with gleaming domes,
minarets and bazaars, surpassing Lisbon in
However the peace
was shattered in 1189 when Christian crusaders
laid siege to the town, destroying everything
outside of the red sandstone castle walls. After
six weeks the Moorish King surrendered to the
King of Portugal, Sancho I with explicit
agreement his people could leave
safely and freely with all the
possessions they could carry. The crusaders went
back on their word though, looting and stripping
possessions from the departing Moors before
slaughtering men, women and children.
was laid to siege three times in two years by
Moorish & Christian armies.
Richard the Lionheart was among the Christian
crusaders who defend
from a counter attack by the
Moors, led by Yacub Ben Yassuf, a year later.
The Moors held the castle siege but failed to
exact their revenge on the Christian occupiers.
Two years after the bloody massacre though
returned to Moorish control after
another month long siege.
remained under Moorish rule for another 50 years
before it was conquered once again by the Master
of the Order of Santiago, Don Paio Peres Correia.
And, under the reign of the Portuguese King,
Afonso III, the castle and town were
reconstructed. A statue of Afonso III stands
proudly outside the main gate to the Moorish castle
today. However it was around this time
fortunes went into decline. The Rio
Arade silted up and stopped the lucrative trade
still a charming place to visit, nestled among
orchards of orange groves. The town is
relatively easy to walk around with nothing
being to far away. There is plenty of parking
adjacent to the Rio Arade from where the cobbled
streets and tree-lined squares are just a short
Roof Tops of Silves
Silves Red Sandstone Castle
In addition to the Castle,
a number of other interesting buildings to
explore including the 15th century cathedral and
the Fabrica do Ingles, a former cork oak
processing factory. The factory was turned into
an exhibition centre with restaurants and bars
occupying the former processing rooms. Fabrica
do Ingles is currently closed to the public, but
it is hoped to be reopened under new management
in the future.
also home to a number of nesting white storks
and it can be interesting viewing at dusk to
watch them take flight to find food, high above
the roof tops, so don't forget to look up when
you visit if you want to get a glimpse of these
Getting to Silves, Algarve, Portugal
Situated 15 kilometres inland from
is relatively easy to reach by either car, boat,
train or bus.
train station lies two kilometres south of the
town itself, though there are taxi at the
station should you wish to safe your feet.
Trains run from Portimão on a regular basis.
However should you wish to take a more scenic
route then why not take to the river? There are
a number of companies providing transit from
boat on a daily basis.
If you prefer to travel by road, either by bus
or car, the journey from Portimão is around 25
minutes, depending upon traffic. If you
are travelling from the east you can choose to
take either the National 125 road or A22, the
electronic toll dual carriageway, turning north
onto the N124-1 at Lagoa.
Map of Silves, Algarve, Portugal
View Silves, Algarve, Portugal in a larger map