Old Town, Albufeira
Walk along lots of avenidas (avenues) and travessas (lanes). You will find lots of restaurants; various nice shops and some surprises; as a house (now a restaurant) decorated with shells (see my last picture).
There have been settlements in Albufeira since prehistoric times. The Romans called it Baltum and built bridges, aqueducts and roads. I spotted no evidence of these although the tiny museum has evidence that there was at least one decent-sized Roman villa in the area.
The name Albufeira comes from the Arabic 'Al-buhera', meaning 'castle-by-the-sea'. In the Medieval period the town was walled and fortified but the 1755 Lisbon earthquake caused massive damage, not only by ground movement but also by the huge tsunami which followed. Almost all Albufeira's buildings were destroyed and the remainder left in ruins. A tiny, tiny bit of those Medieval fortifications is still visible: a chunk of rubble wall which was once the Porta do Norte (north gate).
Wander the narrow streets and alleyways in the coastal area between Praia dos Pescadores and Tunel and you'll get, as the title says, just a tiny glimpse of what once was.
I have to say that the sand sculpture created by the sandman was pretty impressive. It was carefully covered over with tarpaulins at night if rain was forecast though, sadly, I suspect it is too often damaged by those-who-have-drunk-too-much.
There is a bucket for your contributions acknowledging the sandman's skill.
But, impressive though the sand-sculpture was, it was the building behind which particularly interested me. It is old, and low, and small...and has horseshoes and metal plates showing horses. I think...and i may be wrong, so feel free to enlighten me...that this building was once the smithy (blacksmith) for the fishing village of Albufeira, long before the waves of tourists and all the associated concrete arrived.
You'll find the sand sculpture on Avenida da Liberdade (lined with shops, restaurants and tourist stalls), on the left as you walk up towards the bus stops.
Address: Avenida da Liberdade
Directions: Avenida da Liberdade runs off Largo Pacheco, the old town's main square.
Albufeira once had a castle, which dated back to Roman times and was located up on the hill to the west of the main square. Most of it however, like the town, was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake and subsequent tidal surge. This clock tower, the Torre do Relógio, was built on the remains of the Porta da Praça, the old Castle Gate, as an attractive azulejo sign on the wall (photo three) explains. The distinctive filigree iron metalwork that tops it, supporting the bell, is today an unofficial symbol of the town and was added in the 19th century. The clock still chimes the hour and apparently you can go up the tower, although I didn’t realise this or spot any signs nearby advertising that fact – maybe it is closed on a Sunday? The views of the coast would be excellent from up there I am sure.
Next tip: more azulejos
Address: Rua Bernardino Sousa, Albufeira
Directions: See location on Bing map: https://bit.ly/1UirOP7
The crazy construction that disfigured Algarve, has (thanks God!) spared the central area of old Albufeira.
Now, cleaned and organized for touristy exhibition, the central Albufeira looks good, and, for some minutes, allows us to forget the insanity of the exploitation seeking for euros (or dollars, or... just money!) that grew around it.
While many things are changing in the coast and even in Albufeira, the city's centre has been preserved, and still keeps the look of the good old days, when it was no more than a fishing village where a few sun seekers came in summer.
Well done recuperation and embellishing work and the lively business common in touristy hubs don't spoil the place.
Everything is possible and available at short distance.
Albufeira is a charming town with very mixed architecture. The old town is great. You can sit with a coffee and a port wine in the square enjoying people and the whole atmosphere - there is something to look at in every direction, you can walk about in the small cobbled streets and around every corner you are surprised by new views. The beach is wonderful both for relaxing and for long walks. There are many nice restaurants, not posh but with excellent food. There is a lot of good musicians in the town that perform either in the bars or outside, not in an overwhelming way but just to accompany your coffee/dinner/beer. We love the town and are soon returning for the fourth time!
In the midst of all the tourism frenzy, Albufeira has a suprisingly nice old part of town that is really charming.
It´s located a stonethrow from the tourist center and has nice little narrow streets with typical algarvian houses.
It´s a nice little corner in a town that i generally think lacks charm in most other parts of town.
The Old Town has the lively Jardim Square as the focus for tourists. Intereesting one man shows abound , and probabaly change throughout the season several times. This double act involved the fellow lifting his imaginary strings as the girl, playing his mannequin, moved in perfect sync. Unususal !
Address: Jardim Square, Old Town Albufeira
We liked the old town of Albufeira very much. Winding cobbled streets, pavement cafes and restaurants. A place where when you turn another corner you want to explore more.
As I said there is also a part known as the 'strip' more modern, for the younger element, discos. noisey at night. We never actually walked up the strip, we were told about it by some visitors we met, they didnt like it so we gave it a miss.
I expect that most of us have seen these Living Statues, but they never cease to amaze me, the way these people can stand so still, and for so long. And, it was very hot too! The one in the picture here, with Mary, seemed just like the one we saw last year in Torremolinos, but who knows?
One thing for sure is that the fascinate the children - until they suddenly move, and so do the kiddies, LOL!! Take a picture, and give them a Euro or whatever. It's always nice.
Directions: In the Old Town Garden (Central area)
I really liked this one, with the iron frame on the top, inside the little streets on the old town. When I first saw it we were driving, well we were lost trying to get our way through the city with no luck lol
You’ll recognise the main church, or parish church, by its tall bell tower. It’s however a simple church with a single nave: it was opened in 1800 on the place where the old parish church once stood before being destroyed by the 1755 earthquake. The church is built in neo-classical style - and its most interesting sight in the interior is a painting by the local artist Samora Barros of Albufeira. This painting decorates the church’s high altar. It’s in Rua da Igreja Nova
Directions: in the old town
The name Albufeira is of Arabic origin: "Al-buhera" means in fact "the Sea Castle". In town there was once, therefore, a castle - and it’s possible that the entire town was walled. Very little of it remains… a small part of the wall. It’s located at the Rua Joaquim Pedro Samora. Further away - and continuing along the same road - you’ll find 2 plaques made of tiles, marking the place where two of the walled-town’s doors were located.
Directions: in the old town
Take a drive up to the hills above the town to have a look around. The views of the sea from the hills around the town are very nice and there are some beautiful sunsets to be had here. By looking out to see you can see why the early Portuguese people had wanted to explore the world.