Southern Portugal, the Algarve region, has charmed us with scenery, history, and gastronomy. We explored the region for several days by car with our friends, Bill and Grace.
At Ponta de Sagres, we visited the Sagres Fortress and Lighthouse. The lighthouse looked a bit puny up close, after having watched it flashing for hours upon our approach to Sagres from 30nm out at sea, but the fortress was impressive and we had an enjoyable stroll ’round the grounds.
We walked toward the center of the spiral labyrinth of the Chamber of Sound, arrived at the center and stood on a grate covering an open hole. We stood, waiting and wondering, while inspecting hundreds of initials scratched into the walls… and then… “WHOOOOOSHUUD!” A blast of wind came up through the grate accompanied by thunderous sound. It happened again, and again, and then was silent once more. It sent shudders through us! Our hearts were pounding in our chests! We waited again until waves far below crashed into the cave for yet another thunderous experience. I’ve since renamed this the Dragon’s Lair because in my experience I pictured a sleepy dragon below, exhaling.
The entrance to the fortress was decorated with a scarf, and outside a similar scarf formed the shape of a compass “Rose of the Winds.” The knitter at the entrance invited visitors to participate in the project called, The Scarf that Warms Portugal. This project began with local kindergartens to introduce the art of knitting to the children and has grown since 2016 to include all the regions of Portugal and Azores and the contributions of kindergartners from several neighboring European countries.
A drive to the town of Silves found us exploring the Silves Castle, one of the best preserved Moorish Castles in Porgugal. Silves was the capital city during Moorish reign, from (roughly) the 8th thru the 13th century.
A surprise to us, having not done our Moorish castle research, we stumbled upon another castle ruin in Aljezur. The Aljezur castle was free to walk around and had sign descriptions pertaining to the castle’s history. The summit, within the castle walls, offered great views including a glimpse of the ocean to the west. Aljezur was once reachable from the ocean via river, but the river is no longer navigable. The town was quaint, with several shops and hostels, and seemed to be a hikers’ hub (added to the ‘if we had more time’ list).
Never having expected castles in Porgutal we didn’t know what could possibly be more exciting until, along our drive toward Foia, Grace discovered a cork tree.