Boca do Inferno

The Boca do Inferno is an interesting cliff formation close to Cascais, which translates as Hell’s Mouth.

The Atlantic Ocean relentlessly smashing on the cliffs has chiseled out a small cave, which subsequently collapsed forming a small bay and natural arch.

Hell’s Mouth gets its name from the booming of the ocean waves which crash against the cliff face, forcing their way into a cave system, and spraying angrily from an opening above.

When the sea is calm you’ll wonder what the fuss is about but we were lucky enough to see it in full spate!

 

Climbing the ramparts

The next place that we explore in Sintra is the impressive Castelo dos Mouros – Castle of the Moors.

(NB the picture below is actually part of the Pena Palace estate, it was a left over from a previous post that I didn’t want to leave out!!)

p1080328

The imposing ruin of the Castle of the Moors forms a commanding presence on the town’s hillside. Its ramparts forming a rugged spine, snaking sinuously across the hillside.

We wind our way upto the castle through a verdant valley dotted with huge boulders.

Then we emerge into the open square of the castle to get our first glimpse of the structure.

Built by the Moors in the 8th and 9th centuries, it was an important strategic point during the Reconquista, and was taken by Christian forces after the fall of Lisbon in 1147.

It is a National Monument, part of the Sintra Cultural Landscape and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The castle gradually fell into disrepair and was damaged by an earth quake in 1755 and by 1838 the towers were in ruins.

However, in the mid 19th century a restoration project began under the direction of King Ferdinand II as part of his Romanticist designs on Sintra which included the neighbouring Pena Palace.

From the high vantage points there are wonderful panoramic views over the hills of the Serra De Sintra and the plains stretching west to the Atlantic Ocean.

You can also spot the fantastical Pena Palace and enjoy the toy town vista of Sintra below.

There is a fair bit of climbing involved in order to reach the best vantage points but it’s well worth it.

The weathered old stones shimmer under the baking sunshine and vertiginous views beckon from every rampart.

Even though crowds of tourists pour into the castle each day it is still possible to be secluded and alone.

With the breeze blowing in your face and the dizzying drops to the ground below, you certainly feel a little bit of a pioneer as you scale the multitude of steps.

p1080414

 

Fairytale in vivid colour

Here’s lots more colourful pictures taken at the magical Pena Palace in Sintra.

From exotic bird of paradise plants to Moorish turrets and a child’s paintbox palette, the palace is a tourists dream.

All set against a perfect blue sky we couldn’t have picked a better day to immerse ourselves in the crazy world of the Pena Summer Palace.

Below you can see an ornately carve window that shows  a newt, symbolizing the allegory of creation of the world.

The palace is located high on a hill with a one way traffic system and relatively small amounts of parking, making it a bit difficult to get to if you have mobility issues.

However once inside the estate gates a shuttle bus will ferry you further up the hill to the actual castle although there is still a bit of a walk at the top.

Below you can see the clock tower and details from a tiled window.

Apparently Palacio Pena translated into English means the Feather Place, a whimsical, apt name for such a flamboyant display.

As you wander the palace walls you have wonderful views across the countryside and you can also glimpse one of the other castles – the Moorish Castle, a magnificent ruin that we’ll visit later.

I’ll finish on yet more magical colours. Next up we check out the interior and also wander the wider palace grounds.

Altes

On route to our next photogenic village we stop off briefly to take a closer look at one of the many traditional water wheels that are still dotted around the region.

They are protected monuments so if you buy land with one on it, it has to stay there forever!!

988518_10152739052022353_3327000389727598971_n 11034306_10152739051852353_3854693470576830536_n 11118632_10152739051962353_3225735274282323605_n

They still function as well as ever, even if they’ve been left to rust for decades.

Next on the photo tour we head to a pretty little village called Altes.

10446688_10152739052632353_7932153106122470500_n 10983318_10152739052507353_4362991701992437725_n 11057333_10152739052177353_7166561563643859426_n

It’s a typical, Algarve village of whitewashed houses with lattice work, handcrafted chimneys and narrow, cobbled streets nestling in the foothills of the Serra do Caldeirão.

11174839_10152739053082353_6168088077502967510_n

There are so many pretty windows that I became virtually delirious with snappy delight!

11017049_10152739053317353_2009093573621893959_n 11146516_10152739052097353_1293306414748893613_n 11149244_10152739053267353_1885612418362654539_n

Dotted about the whitewashed alley ways are delightful terracotta pots full of fleshy succulents and geraniums.

10989113_10152739053372353_3694483266004285931_n

Some of which I have absolutely no idea of what they’re called!

11000506_10152739052937353_362458419263390905_n

Sunlight bounces off the blindingly white buildings, contrasting with the solid blue of the sky.

10983318_10152739052507353_4362991701992437725_n 11101403_10152739052942353_4264008592753556682_n 11138621_10152739052982353_4663109778247884716_n

Here’s a few more colourful snaps of plants and paintwork.

10389965_10152739053437353_2220644251381252492_n 10443610_10152739052622353_3015205988522346678_n 10942415_10152739053217353_1040602209186986198_n

Plus a local feline stares me down as I capture them in my view finder.

11170355_10152739052337353_7008873063566275938_n 11169197_10152739051607353_7796190129734422674_n 10917858_10152739053557353_953572315317034575_n

At the eastern end of Alte, past the school, are the springs (fontes) for which Alte is well known. The area around Fonte Pequena (little spring) is very pretty with a bridge across the stream, the start of a series of waterfalls and a picnic site.

There’s also a paved garden area dedicated to Alte’s famous poet, Cândido Guerreiro..there are tiled plaques on the wall with some of the poet’s works on.

11146215_10152739053592353_466232452722695275_n

As usual there are lots of pretty tiles to be found on the local houses.

11156342_10152739052222353_7720551036745570907_n

While sunshine bathes some of the local flora in glorious light and colour.

11156287_10152739053162353_34561275600632049_n

Eastern Algarve tour

Another day, another tour of the delights of Portugal. This time it was a day exploring the eastern Algarve.

11169179_10152739046152353_2939213919276070295_n

First up was a brief return to the capital of Faro before heading onto the port of Olhao. Sadly we had mere minutes to take a look at the market hall before speeding onwards.

11146242_10152739046377353_123179580849724348_n 11146215_10152739046417353_5638520106779027520_n 11149377_10152739046462353_9025839422114644112_n

Next up we briefly cross the border into Spain and the town of Ayamonte.

15610_10152739046602353_7556464452711691933_n

Again we had very little time to spare in the town so we just snapped some of the colourful tiles in the town centre.

988517_10152739046677353_1532485508541927540_n

Patterns galore and palm trees make the town a pleasant place to sit and watch the world go by.

11146242_10152739046752353_1982278161899885970_n

Here’s a few more colourful painted tiles.

11150459_10152739046867353_8340946853607056617_n 11136649_10152739046832353_6931063150364443391_n 11147145_10152739046947353_2073800429202698809_n

Next on our whistle stop tour is Vila Real de Santo Antonio.

This pretty town is easy to find your way around, because it’s laid out on a grid system. The town was designed that way by the Marquês de Pombal.

11145191_10152739047207353_8318906617210711225_n

Vila Real has a large town square, ‘Praça Marquês de Pombal’, which is edged with orange trees and surrounded with white buildings, shops, cafes and restaurants. Its grey and white cobbles radiate out from a central obelisk.

11027460_10152739047367353_7147396470166273286_n 11011837_10152739047332353_3544636732543817764_n 10985917_10152739047642353_945020147819308205_n

There’s lots of lovely details scattered around the town. Including highly detailed tiles on many of the buildings.

11160571_10152739047732353_475374754793584739_n

Lots of the buildings are in a sad state of disrepair. Partly because anything over one hundred years old can’t be knocked down, only refurbished.

P1040363 P1040367 P1040371

Here’s another of the decorative tiles.

P1040369

Another of my favourite touches is that some of the houses are completely tiled from floor to ceiling. Whether this is purely decorative or whether it helps keeps them cool in summer I am not sure.

P1040379 P1040380 P1040382

At the end of the 19th century the town was a major canning centre for sardines and tuna. There’s a museum dedicated to the business.

It includes lots of the surprisingly decorative packaging and tins.

P1040385 P1040390 P1040391

There’s also an exhibit of lithography which was used for the print of the labels.

Finally we visited the lovely town of Taveria. Thanks to a cock up I have already posted about that though!!! Opps 🙂

Tavira

Tavira is a beautiful town with a river cutting through it. It’s in the eastern Algarve and feels a world away from the tourist hordes of the usual beach resorts.11150398_10152739047927353_7724253535114584378_n

Between the 8th and 13th centuries Tavira was under Arab rule until its conquest by the Knights of the Order of Santiago in 1242.

11156157_10152739047972353_3084634098698340426_n

The gracious seven arch bridge, over the river Gilão, was believed to be Roman in origin for a while but is now thought to be Moorish, although its present appearance was acquired in the 17th century.

P1040405 P1040404 11148729_10152739048057353_6928635155306559019_n

There are more than 20 churches in and around the town along with plenty of other sights.

11149490_10152739048097353_2582864045267705477_n

The Moorish occupation of Tavira between the 8th and 13th centuries left its mark on the agriculture, architecture and culture of the area.

P1040407 P1040443 P1040419

That Moorish  influence can still be seen in Tavira today with its whitewashed buildings, Moorish style doors and rooftops.

P1040415 P1040418 P1040417

Above is Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo, is a 13th-century Gothic Church, built on the site of a Moorish mosque but rebuilt by an Italian neoclassicist following earthquake damage 500 years later.

11146528_10152739048647353_4520013604171220923_n 11162511_10152739048212353_853721808025480357_n 11052437_10152739049407353_5070214607459416052_n

It’s next to the ruins of Tavira castle where you can make the climb onto the ramparts and enjoy the view across the pretty town.

10923492_10152739049307353_7238258503868014243_n

It’s a far ole drop down! But the pay off is that from atop the walls views of whitewashed houses stretch into the distance.

11138530_10152739048847353_4817815637755538244_nIt’s a beautiful place to while away a few hours, wandering the little back streets and just soaking up the atmosphere.

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!

Albuferia old town

On the hunt for peeling paint and ornate stuff, I head to Albuferia old town.

17083_10152739041452353_1422005966520315286_n 10556243_10152739040697353_56529112781550466_n 10985373_10152739040752353_7100526239458355484_n

While it is quite small I still managed to find some details to snap away at. From the ornate tiles that are found on most houses, to beautiful doors and colourful paintwork.

11010559_10152739040812353_5619497128437510096_n 11147065_10152739041507353_2404784198396908337_n 11139351_10152739041037353_2895400736293862770_n

In Roman times Albufeira was known as Baltum and then re-named Al-Buhera by the Moorish settlers in the 8th Century.

It was finally taken from the Moors in the middle of the 13th Century by the ‘Knights of the Order of Santiago’

11039340_10152739040937353_522668800739153007_n 11150902_10152739041422353_9083973952644589667_n 11017489_10152739041192353_8948301293897684567_n

Albufeira was a small fishing village until the arrival of tourism in the 1960s. Substantial developments since then have turned it into a major holiday resort

11129195_10152739040457353_571319790269690320_n 11140272_10152739041137353_1128586189247432428_n 11164181_10152739041117353_5686972153300894210_n

Even with all of the developments, some of Albufeira Old Town still retains the essence of the village it once was, with narrow cobbled streets winding up and around the hillsides.

11047877_10152739040672353_8206064204432104288_n

 

Next up I’m grabbing a local bus to the capital city of Faro. Somewhat overlooked by tourists in the main who head straight from its airport to their beach resorts.

 

Around the headland

Having sat on the beach for all of half an hour I was predictably getting itchy explorer feet so decided to strike out for the headland and see what was around the bend!P1030855

I knew that the beach of old town Albuferia could be found via a cliff top walk and it was apparently was only twenty minutes away.

So off I trotted, just me and my trusty camera.

P1030857 P1030867 P1030856

While it wasn’t exactly a gentle stroll (more a a scramble and hike) I got to experience some of the stunning, rugged coast line that the Algarve is famous for.

11108875_10152731585032353_6912661049896450660_n

As it was just me and my camera you get treated to a rare glimpse of me (as the usual photographic human subject AKA the other half, wasn’t on hols with me!)

P1030861 P1030865P1030854

Dramatic ochre cliffs crumble and tumble into the deep blue waters below. The sunny April day was a perfect temperature for the climb.

P1030869

Along the way I spotted secluded little coves without a tourist in site, eroded rocks created bridges and pools while the sandy cliff path kept on winding its way ahead of me.

P1030870 P1030875 P1030877

It really was a beautiful walk.

11138095_10152731584612353_2555583089341217235_n 11156325_10152731584407353_609911373356430701_n 10641126_10152731584252353_7470095257816415958_n

I barely passed a soul as I trekked along the cliff top. It felt like I had the Algarve to myself.

11159956_10152731584567353_6944505610417006667_n

It got a bit hairy in some places where the path had literally dropped into the sea, leaving just a tiny section to inch your way along.

P1030879

But before long I had sight of the populated Albuferia town beach. A huge stretch of sand that is accessed via a tunnel from the old town. Here’s the steps down from the cliff I had just crossed.

P1030884

It was back to civilisation and goodbye to the empty rugged glories of the lonely cliff top.

P1030883

My destination was the old town of Albuferia.

P1030887

On the look out for my favourite snaps of peeling paint, old doors and architecture. The town perches on top of the cliff, all white cubes and parasols.

P1030886

Next up, some snaps from the old town!

Algarve memories

Fresh from a week’s break with family in Albuferia, a bustling part of Portugal’s Algarve. Ten of us rocked up to the very swish Villa Bosque with its own private pool and spacious living quarters.

P1030806

Set down a quiet residential street it is just minutes from the main drag of Praia d’Oura with all its restaurants, supermarkets and “The Strip” the long street of bars.

It was ideally placed for the beach too, about 15 minutes walk. Perfect!!
P1030810

With tiny nippers in tow it was ideal for youngsters with a heated pool and lots of garden space to whizz around in.

P1030807 P1030811 P1030813

Here is a rare glimpse of my younger sister taking to the water!!

P1030823

Meanwhile I take it easy and put my feet up! (Fear not, it was only for arrival day – I was soon on the touring rampage, camera in hand)

P1030827

We took a stroll down to Praia D’Oura beach, a pleasant crescent of sand with some of the Algarve’s trade mark yellow ochre cliffs tumbling down to the sea.

P1030829

Later on in the holiday I take a hike around the cliff headland in the distance to Albuferia old town and its huge beach.

P1030836

But just for the first day we take a well earned rest (or I do – grandma has her hands full!)

P1030846 P1030844 P1030851