Faro's old town is dominated by the cathedral (Se Catedral). The original Gothic church was built in the 13th century, but severely damaged during the 1755 earthquake. Only the tower and and a doorway remained from that era.
From the tower you can enjoy panoramic views of Faro and the coastline.
Faro Cathedral is located at the Largo da Se, just in the heart of Faro's old town.
This square lies outside the entrance of the cathedral, and as well as the cathedral, is dominated by the Bishops Palace (built in 1585) on its northern side and the Episcopal Seminary (built in 1789) on its western side. The statue facing the cathedral is that of Bishop Francisco Gomes de Avelar (1736-1816) who devoted his life and fortune to the improvement of Faro, largely through the construction of monuments and other buildings of public interest.
Located in the centre of the Old Town, this strange looking building is dominated by its strange bell tower which is the only part left to survive from the original Romanesque-Gothic structure when it was built in 1251. It is believed that the cathedral was built on the site of a Roman temple, then a Visigoth cathedral and then a Moorish mosque before being built just two years after the Christian reconquest of the city. The cathedral was then handed over to the Order of St James before being enlarged from 1321 during the reign of King Dinis (1279-1325). It was then changed again in the 15th century before being plundered and burned by the British troops of the 2nd Earl of Essex in 1596. The cathedral was then rebuilt with a rebuilt chancel around 1640 and its organ was installed in 1715. Earthquakes in 1722 and, of course, the big one in 1755 damaged the cathedral yet again yet it still remains a remarkable building.
Faro's Cathedral is described quite rapturously in several of the books I've read but inside and out, I found it a little disappointing. There are several treasures, especially in the side chapels but I find the claim of 'The best example of Baroque carving in The Algarve' a little difficult to accept. Inside, I loved the stained glass windows, bordered by azulejos (photo 3)and the tiled ribbed vaulting, (photo 4) but was not tempted to linger too long. Outside it's a bit of a mish mash with only the surviving main doorway and bell tower, looking remotely cathedral-like. This of course is because the original building was mostly destrioyed during the British attacks of 1596 and the great Earthquake of 1755.
Outside is the large expanse of Largo da Se, much too big and irregularly shaped to be called a square. Built on the site of the old Roman Forum, it's a fabulous space, housing the Cathedral, the Bishops Palace and the Town hall and lined all round with Orange trees bursting with fruit and colour ( photos 2 & 5). A great place to amble round and take close up photos of oranges. Colourful, beautiful and very Portugese, don't miss Largo da Se.
The Cathedral of Faro was remodelled several times and presents today elements of different styles like Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque.
You hardly can see it on my photo but when you are there take a closer look at the tower. On top of the spire is a small iron stork, symbol of Portugal.
The Cathedral has some beautiful chapels decorated with gilt carved wood, tiles and paintings and an impressive baroque organ from the 17th century.
The Cathedral was completed in1251, on what was probably the site of a Moorish mosque, an earlier Visigoth cathedral. It was damaged in 1755.