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Faro

 

 The capital of Algarve boasts of a lively centre filled with shops, esplanades, bars and restaurants together with interesting monuments and museums and fine buildings, mainly from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The reason for this is that although Faro became an important port and centre under the Romans, after having been a prehistoric fishing village, it suffered the occupation of the Moors, was burnt and sacked by the English in the 16th century and greatly damaged by the devastating earthquake of 1755.

Faro was largely rebuilt and some of the finest architectural examples can be seen between the centre of the city and Largo do Carmo, such as Palácio Bivarin. Many sites are worth visiting: Largo da Sé, with its fine buildings, the 18th-century bishops´ palace and the rich cathedral; the church of São Pedro, dedicated to the patron saint of fishermen and with a magnificent baroque main altarpiece; the curious Jewish cemetery, dating from the 18th century; Arco da Vila, an arch built on the place of a medieval castle gate in the 18th century; Arco do Repouso, of Moorish origin, etc.

Tourists can also visit the Municipal Museum, housed in a former convent and displaying local archaeological discoveries; Museu Marítimo, exhibiting a curious collection of models of boats; and the Etnographic Museum, showing the Algarve´s traditional customs.

Between São Brás de Alportel and Faro, the small and quiet village of Estói is known for its surprising palace in the Rococo style, built between the mid-1840´s and completed in 1909.

The gardens have orange trees and palms, fountains and statues, and there are two pavilions, the blue and white tiled Casa da Cascata and, on the main terrace, the Casa do Presépio, with stained-glass windows and fountains adorned with nymphs and beautiful decorated tiles picturing pastoral scenes.

Near Estói, the Roman ruins of Milreu date from the 1st and 2nd century AD and are worth visiting, although many archaeological findings have been transferred to the Municipal Museum in Faro.

 

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