Casa Ferrobo
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Sao Bras de Alportel

"The tranquil, unhurried lifestyle of the local people, streets of white houses, the ring of hills that tower majestically around; these are the simple charms of this typical Algarvean town".

The area was inhabited as early as Roman times and was the birthplace of the Moorish poet Ibne Ammar. By the 16th century, Sao Bras was a thriving small community. In the 17th century, the Algarvean Bishops were drawn to Sao Bras by it's agreeable climate and made the area their summer residence.

However, the real prosperity of Sao Bras was created by being at the centre of the Cork trade. The surrounding hills were laid to Cork Oak plantations and the town became not only the largest producer of Cork in Portugal but the largest in the World. Please CLICK HERE to learn more about Cork Production. Whilst Cork Oaks are still widespread, the industry has now moved to other areas of Portugal and Sao Bras has now returned to being a diversified Algarvean community.

Walking is a major source of recreational activity around Sao Bras. Destinations include Mesquita, Desbarato, Mealhas, Gralheira and Vilarinhos. The hills also hide the fascinating little communities such as Cova da Muda, Javali, Cabeca do Velha, Corches and Pero de Amigos.

Many of the regions traditional crafts still thrive in Sao Bras de Alportel. Brooms and brushes are made in Soalheira, interesting objects are woven from the tough Esparto grass from Peral. Stonemasonry is practised in Chibeira and Corotelo and baskets and panniers are made in Desbarato. Tiles and Bricks are still handmade and can be seen in Vale de Mealhas. In Vilarinhos you can see wrought iron and copper work, miniature carts and children's toys. Finally, but by no means least, if you want to see a mill grind corn and wheat as it always has been using nothing but wind power, then a visit to Cabeca do Velho is a must.

Built in the 17th and 18th centuries for the Bishops of the Algarve, this building has been systematically modified over the years until today, only part of the main building and a baroque vaulted fountain with 8 spouts remain. The Museum is probably the best in the Algarve and is located in what was once the bourgeois home of a wealthy Cork Trader. In addition to an exhibition of typical Algarvean Costumes, there is also a collection of popular religious sculpture. In the old farm buildings, there are a number of old Farm Implements and Vehicles plus a further exhibition dedicated to the Cork trade.

Loule

Loule is a rural administrative and active market town with some remains of a castle dating back to the 12th Century. The Arab castle has been virtually destroyed leaving some walls still standing that are now surrounded by modern buildings. Like most other towns in the Algarve, most of the older potentially interesting buildings have been destroyed in the earthquake that occurred in 1755.

Within the remaining walls is a museum with an explanation of what was in the past the grandeur of the castle. The various earthquakes that it has suffered through its history have damaged the 13th Century Church of São Clemente. However, its Gothic arches and side chapels that are from the 16th Century have survived.

The town of Loule, consisting of some 20,000 residents, is mainly concerned with producing souvenir products made out of copperware, leather, cane and wood, to service the tourist industry. The weekly market attracts tourists from all along the Algarve. Due to the demands of tourism, this town has blossomed in size. An important event is the annual Carnival held in February that is considered to be one of the best in Portugal. In the town there is a Museum that is devoted to the local industry of dried fruits and it is interesting to see how these products are prepared for the public.

Estói

Just off the town's main square is the Pousada do Visconde de Estói, a 19th-century Rococo pousada, with gardens fanned by giant palms and cooled by fountains. A ten-minute walk from here brings you to the site of Milreu, a Roman complex dominated by a temple that was converted into a Christian basilica in the 5th century.

Alte

Described as "a delightful snapshot of the real Algarve" in many a tourist brochure, Alte is a picture of beauty and serenity. The little village with its whitewashed façades, filigree chimney pots and rural charm appears to have little time for the 21st century. The central attraction is the picnic area near the stream. The area is also renowned for its handicrafts and colourful folklore.

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