Selected examples of architectural beauty of the past centuries

As in Lisbon the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami in 1755  destroyed most buildings in the Algarve, so that you will  find hardly any evidence of the building from the centuries before this catastrophic event. During many strolls through the Algarvian cities and villages we have however found some architectural jewels that we would like to share with you.

Sacral architecture

Some of the most beautiful churches, convents and cathedrals in the Algarve

The little chapel Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe near Raposeira is one of the few monuments that survived the earthquake of 1755 almost untouched. It is said to be one of the oldest examples of Gothic architecture in the Algarve.  Only specific parts of most sacred monuments such as portals or belfries have been preserved.

Our gallery depicts some of the finest cathedrals, churches and convents throughout the Algarve.

Manueline style

The Manueline style or Portuguese late Gothic is the sumptuous, composite Portuguese style of architectural ornamentation of the first decades of the 16th century

The Manueline style is named after King Manuel I, whose reign (1495 to 1521) coincided with its development, incorporating maritime elements and representations of the discoveries brought from the voyages of Vasco da Gama and Pedro Álvares Cabral. The influence of the style, however, outlived the king. Celebrating the new maritime power, it manifested itself in architecture (churches, monasteries, palaces, castles) and extended into other arts such as sculpture, painting, works of art made of precious metals, faience and furniture.

This innovative style synthesizes aspects of Late Gothic architecture with influences of Spanish, Italian, and Flemish elements. It marks the transition from Late Gothic to Renaissance. The construction of churches and monasteries in Manueline style was largely financed by proceeds of the lucrative spice trade with Africa and India.

In the Algarve elements of Manueline style can be observed at several places.

Urban architecture

Town houses of the recent centuries

Several cities such as Faro, Lagos, Loulé, Olhão, Portimão, Silves and Tavira have maintained a remarkable architectural heritage from the last centuries.

We would like to show you some of the finest town houses we have found when strolling through the streets and lanes.

Vila Real de Santo António

The centre of Vila de Real de Santo António is well known for its special structure

Its predecessor was just a small fishing village at the mouth of the Guadiana River, called Santo António de Avenilha. The village was completely destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami of 1755.  Shortly after, the Prime Minister Pombal decided to build a new village as a demonstration of power towards Spain. The techniques used had already successfully been applied in the reconstruction of Lisbon, which had also been damaged by the earthquake.  In record time, i.e. in just five months a city, structured like a chess board, was born. The square in the centre, Praça do Marquês de Pombal, is surrounded by a line of houses built in the same uniform style.


An architectural heritage from the Moorish period

“Açoteia” is a terrace on top of a building, replacing the roof. These are particularly common in Algarve houses and can have multiple uses, from collecting rain water to drying out fruit or use as a recreational space. In the town of Olhão there are many such terraces. It was the Arabs who introduced  this architectural feature.