On one of our Algarve days we took a drive a bit inland to the small city of Silves. I had read that it was a pretty little town with an interesting Moorish Castle ruin, so we went to see what we could see. It is a very old city that has been inhabited by the Romans, the Visigoths, and the Moors before becoming part of Portugal. The old Moorish castle sits high on a hill and is visible for miles. In the town you see remnants of old walls that have been built over and around.
We poked around the town, finding the local market, and stopping for a cold drink at a lovely plaza. I ordered "fresh lemon juice" which I supposed would be lemonade. It was, in fact, a tall glass, half filled with unadulterated lemon juice and ice. The waitress also brought me a bottle of water and two little packets of sugar. These, she explained were to add to the juice if I found it too strong as it was. It was a very tart lemonade even with these additions!
Waiting for us outside the castle walls was this statue of Sancho I of Portugal, who, with his band of Crusaders, defeated the Moors and claimed the city and fortress for Portugal in 1189.
There is not a lot to see inside the fortress, except for some excavation of the palace that was destroyed. But you can walk the surrounding wall and look out over the countryside and get a good view of the palace ruins.
We wandered through a nice local art exhibit in a small chapel. There were a group of school children at the exhibit, sprawled on the floor, creating their own versions of the art in the exhibit. Pretty cute.
We browsed the shops, including this shop filled with Portugese cork products.
I was amazed by the variety of things made from cork—coats, jackets, shoes, hats, handbags, lamps, belts, wallets—as well as the predictable coasters and table mats and bottle stoppers. After we left the shop Ray pointed out to me that I had actually taken a photo of the "no photography" sign. Oops. I didn't notice it. As we were driving out of Silves we saw a place where cork was being harvested, with big stacks of slabs of the bark from the cork oak trees.
It was a lovely, leisurely day. When we got back to the hotel we sat out on the terrace and drank wine and visited with a nice American couple from Chicago and watched the stars come out over the ocean. The next morning we packed up and headed for Lisbon.