Faro and bones

Faro, the capital of the Algarve, is often overlooked by the hoardes of tourists who disembark at the airport and head straight for their beach resorts.

However it has a wealth of beautiful buildings, a quaint old town and some macabre secrets to share with anyone who takes the time to explore it.

10923442_10152739043907353_1243742430192184931_n

I hopped on a local bus from Praia D’Oura but I must have picked a route that literally went around the houses as it took nearly two hours for me to arrive!

11140272_10152739042252353_1136163357792913328_n

First up I headed for the main square in the old town. This peaceful, orange tree lined open space is also home to Faro cathedral.

10568955_10152739042187353_6729661441921337037_n 988517_10152739043667353_1672355349555120255_n 11149511_10152739042292353_3655905570172068951_n

The cathedral, with its family of storks nesting on the roof, has a wealth of ornate details waiting to be uncovered. From gilded cherubs to the ubiquitous white and blue tiling that is a feature of the region.

10407157_10152739043552353_2479683687251019878_n 11138605_10152739043567353_6149753420360551676_n11011006_10152739043492353_5476205798579030283_n

You can also get a marvellous panoramic view over the old town and out towards the marsh flats from the roof top of this venerable old building.

11162473_10152739043737353_2460294416574874640_n

The old town itself is a maze of whitewashed houses, punctuated with vivid splashes of colour from Bougainvillea and ornate tiling.

11174828_10152739042387353_6658046143054021480_n 11163862_10152739043822353_573164082462565240_n 10570382_10152739042532353_6909738961407849057_n

Grafitti, deep red walls and endless tiles all via for my attention.

603813_10152739042617353_9210324388692251204_n 10665192_10152739042857353_1638838117303146417_n 11145570_10152739042807353_8575638225424713707_n

However the main attraction of Faro for me is to be found behind this facade of the Baroque Igreja do Carmo.

10983123_10152739043192353_4069102420705849068_n

The Igreja do Carmo originally dates from 1719 with the money for its construction financed with Brazilian gold from Portugal’s colony in South America.

It has some wonderful features including these serene figures of Jesus and Mary. However, they are not the reason I am visiting.

11169977_10152739044742353_1816193716038794038_n 11146218_10152739044847353_5691855746535549370_n 10556243_10152739044902353_6764544221394416797_n

The reason is a little more macabre . . .  it is the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) set within a small walled garden within the church grounds.

11141275_10152739044082353_7127715505118708675_n 11141777_10152739044422353_8659312910479805306_n 10985310_10152739044302353_4252613273550653847_n

The bones and skulls that can be seen are those of over 1200 Carmelite monks that were exhumed from the nearby church cemetery when the ossuary was built in 1816.

An inscription over the entrance reads: “Stop here and consider the fate that will befall you.” A fitting thought as you examine the skulls and femurs that “decorate” the interior.

11062355_10152739044137353_6991141449683025673_n

It’s not the first bone chapel I have visited. The Capuchin bone crypt, a larger, multi roomed, version can be found in Rome, complete with chandeliers made from pelvic bones!

But each one is a fascinating way of emphasising the brevity of human existence and giving us pause to consider our own mortality in the empty eye sockets of those that have gone before us.

11159482_10152739044242353_2058459279252594261_n 11146204_10152739044177353_6747128329198905236_n 11088405_10152739043997353_4426787328295772577_n

I personally found it very serene and peaceful, not at all creepy. Indeed I think it shows a healthy respect for, and embracing of, death.

Back amongst the living, out on the streets there’s always time to pause and appreciate some street art before heading back to the bus station to head for home.

11163862_10152739043402353_795560738902751666_n

Next we’ve taking a trip to the pretty town of Silves and the highest point of the Algarve!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s