The best things to see in Faro Portugal: a guide to its landmarks

Faro is the capital of the Algarve region and the starting point for traveling in the south of Portugal. It is famous for its seaport, cozy fish restaurants, retro cars and authentic architecture. Just wallowing on the beach, dying from boredom and hopelessness, you simply will not work! The capital of the southern lands is literally strewn with valuable artifacts, thanks to which Faro (Portugal) attractions have become very popular.

Old Town Faro – Historical Center

Faro Historic Center

In the center of Faro, you can see the picturesque old quarter or Old Town Faro, where you will find a lot of interesting places.

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Photo: one of the streets of the old city

The old town, consisting of paved squares and winding streets, will plunge you into the atmosphere of medieval Portugal.

The district is surrounded by an oval-shaped fortress wall with three entrance gates, which was erected for 100 years (X – XI centuries). During its existence, it survived three recoveries, therefore it was preserved only in fragments. Castelo de Faro Castle, towering here since the 19th century, is attached to this wall. He has hardly changed.

Behind the walls of Old Town is the quiet Cathedral Square of Faro, the main decorations of which are the seminary founded in the 18th century, and the Episcopal Palace, which serves as the residence of the bishops of the Algarve. The latter stores a lot of paintings, manuscripts on theology and priceless tomes.

  • Where is: the center of Faro.

The Cathedral of the Virgin – the main temple of the city

Photo: main cathedral of the city
Cathedral of the Virgin

If you do not know what to see in Faro, we recommend that you look into the Cathedral, which is also called the Church of St. Mary. One of the most beautiful and most famous architectural objects collected in the main square in the heart of the Old Town. Surrounded by orange trees, it is simply stunning with its ancient beauty.

Photo: temple inside
Cathedral Interior

The history of this attraction began back in 1251, when the first Christians conquered Faro from the Arabs. Then the cathedral was built on the site of the mosque, which became cathedral only after 300 long years. The architecture of the temple is a mixture of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance. Unfortunately, after several reconstructions from the unique building, only the bell tower, the main portico and the chapels remained. By the way, one of the chapels is decorated with an original Baroque retablo. Inside the church consists of three spacious naves, separated from each other by two magnificent columns.

The main chapel of the sights, as well as the side walls, are decorated with tiles of the 17th century. The organ operating in this temple from the 18th century has also been preserved.

View of the city from the observation deck
View of the city from the Church of the Virgin Mary

On the roof of the Church of the Virgin Mary is the best observation deck in Faro, which offers a wonderful view: you can look at the sea and the walled old city. Now Faro Cathedral is included in the register of monuments of national importance. The building houses a collection of iconic works of art – vessels for communion, vestments of priests, figurines of saints in glass boxes and other exhibits belonging to the Cathedral Museum.

In the courtyard of the cathedral you will see a unique chapel. Its peculiarity is that human bones, the very real ones, act as decor. Read more about this place below.

  • Where is: Largo da Se, Faro 8000-138, Portugal (the center of the Old Town).
  • Opening hours: 10: 00-17: 30, on Saturday – 9: 00-13: 00.
  • Ticket price – 3.5 euros.

Estoy Palace – the pearl of architecture

Estoy Palace is located near Faro. The spectacular building, decorated in a rare at that time Rococo style and framed by antique columns, dates back to the middle of the 17th century. The idea to build a palace belonged to the local aristocrat, but he was not destined to see his masterpiece in connection with the imminent death. However, this idea was picked up by another rich man who received the title of Viscount Estoy for his merits.

Photo: Estoy Palace

The castle, designed by Domingos da Silva Meira, is famous for its beautiful garden. In its lower terrace is a white and blue pavilion with the best copy of the “Three Graces” by Antonio Canova and graceful sculptures carved from stone. But the upper terrace is decorated with fountains, niches, miniature pools with sparkling water and stained glass windows.

The decoration of the sights is a real masterpiece! Inside you can see tiled panels, beautiful stucco molding, unique paintings, as well as a collection of antique furniture and home decoration. The building is decorated with graceful reclining and sitting statues. Another feature of the Palácio de Estoi is the wooden Roman baths, made in the form of unusual fabulous fish.

  • Since 2008, after reconstruction, Estoy has become an elite hotel. To get to its territory, you must agree with the staff. It is simple to do this – the friendly hotel staff do not refuse, you do not need to pay for entry, as well as for parking.
  • Location: Rua de Sao Jose (St. Jose Street).

You will be interested: Rest in Faro – beaches, restaurants, prices .

Church of do Carmo – Temple of Gold Leaf

Attraction: Church do Carmo

Igreja da Ordem Terceira do Carmo, built in the 18th century, is one of the most luxurious examples of late Baroque. With the Carmelite Cathedral, she represents an architectural ensemble. These two buildings are united by the narrowest house in the world, the width of which is only 1 meter.

The facade of the building is decorated with cornices and elegant fences. The walls on the sides are painted with vivid azulejo images (tiles in white and blue tones), telling about the creation of the Carmelite Order.

The Third Order Cathedral of Karma has only one nave. It housed the main altar and 7 side chapels, decorated with gilding. In the center of the hall are sculptures of Elijah and Elisha, biblical prophets. Amazing rich interior decor and wooden inlay trimmed with gold.

The Carmo Church building is considered unique. This is not only one of the most beautiful city attractions, but also the best example of the wooden architecture of Portugal. It is also called the Carmelite Cathedral or the Church of the 3rd Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary from Mount Carmel.

Photo: wall of skulls in Capella
Skulls in the chapel of Osush

The interior of the church of do Carmo is decorated with gold leaf, so it is often called Golden. The attention is attracted by a magnificent altar, sacristy, as well as an ancient organ made in the Baroque style.

But the most famous was the Osush chapel, completed in 1826. It will be discussed further.

  • Where to find the attraction: Largo do Carmo (Piazza do Carmo).
  • Open: on weekdays in winter – from 9:00 to 17:00, in summer – from 9:00 to 18:00, Sat – 10:00 -13: 00, Sun – off.
  • Entrance to the church is free, 1 euro to the chapel.

Chapel of Bones – Faro’s dark legacy

Photo: Bone Chapel

The Chapel of Osos, built in the early 18th century, is one of Faro’s most visited attractions.

The ceiling and walls of Capela dos Ossos are walled up with 1250 lime whitened monastic skulls and bones.

The building itself consists of 3 huge naves with small windows, thanks to which they are in the twilight, even in sunny weather. The impression is gloomy and rather creepy – certainly not for the vulnerable and impressionable!

The author of this strange structure is a Franciscan monk who decided with his creation to emphasize the whole corruption of life. The entrance to the chapel is crowned with a warning sign – “Our bones are waiting for yours.”

Roman villa in Milreu – ruins that became history

Historic Landmark - Roman Villa

Among the most famous sights of Faro can safely be attributed Nucleo Museologico da Villa Romana de Milreu. These are ancient ruins located 8 km from Faro in the picturesque countryside. Here you can look at various ceramics, thematic mosaics, marble coverings and other artifacts, as well as get acquainted with the life of the ancient Romans. The exact date of the founding of the Roman villa in Milreu is unknown – presumably this is the 1st or 2nd century AD In the 4th century, it was rebuilt and continued to be used until about the 7th century.

Only small fragments of the great manor house, temple, agricultural buildings and baths have survived to our days.

The ruins of Villa Romana are considered a characteristic example of a villa with a peristyle. The open courtyard is surrounded on all sides by a covered colonnade. The patio adjacent to this gallery is dominated by decorative friezes with images of fish. The main motive in the interior is geometric, strict.

Photo: ruins of Villa Milreu

Another evidence of past luxury is the dilapidated baths with apoditerium (dressing room) and frigidarium (branch in Roman terms). They still have marble baths for cold water, in which the owners of the villa cooled after the bath. Of great interest are marble sculptures and an underground heating system.

To the right of the main entrance is a water sanctuary dedicated to the cult of water. Once its interior was decorated with colorful marble tiles, and the exterior was decorated with mosaic drawings of fish. In the VI century, the Romans turned the sanctuary into a church, adding a small mausoleum and a font for ablutions. The next transformation took place in the 8th century, when the church became a mosque. After another 200 years, the building was almost destroyed by an earthquake. And only in the 15th century a rural house was built on the site of an ancient estate, which has been preserved in Portugal to the present.

  • Location: Rua de Faro, Estoi (street de Faro, Estoy).
  • Opening hours: 10: 30-13: 00 and 14: 00-18: 30.
  • Entrance fee 2 euros.

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Francisco Gomez Street – for relaxing and walking

Photo: tourist street them.  Francisco Gomez

What else to see in Faro Portugal? Be sure to walk along the beautiful Francisco Gomez street, located in the very center of the city. It is made in the classic Portuguese style and is literally saturated with the atmosphere of relaxation and walks. Rua Dr. Francisco Gomes is paved with smooth stone or beautiful tiles and protected from the sun by a white canopy of fabric. This is where you will find trendy shops, souvenir shops, restaurants and cafes.

  • Location: Rua Dr. Francisco Gomes (Francisco Gomez Street).

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Arco da Vila – the main city gate

Arch da Vila in Faro

Above one of the three entrances to the historical part of the city rises the old neoclassical Arco da Vila, located two hundred meters from the Church of St. Mary. It was built in 1812 at the direction of the priest Francisco do Avelara. The author of this project is Francesco Fabri, a famous architect from Genoa.

The arch has a rounded shape, the design of which is complemented by a statue of Thomas Aquinas, made of pure marble, and two ancient Greek columns. This ensemble is completed by a beautiful pediment flowing into the belfry. Along its edges are clocks and balusters, giving it a very noble appearance.

Today, Arco da Vila is considered not only one of the main symbols of Faro, but also a favorite residence of local storks.

  • Location: Rua da Misericordia (street of Mercy).

In Faro (Portugal), the sights are distinguished by their grandeur and originality. They do not let you get bored and make tourists plunge into the atmosphere of antiquity and beauty.

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