Sights to see in the Algarve: The Sé of Faro, the Palacio de Estoi and the Roman ruins of Milreu

By admin | | Posted in: Pine Cliffs

In our previous blog posts in this series, we introduced you to the gorgeous region of the Algarve in Portugal, and outlined the top villages and towns not to miss in the area during your holiday. In the following posts, we’re going to go into detail about various attractions, historical sites, places of outstanding natural beauty and other sites of interest to help you plan your trip and ensure that you don’t miss a thing during your adventure in this glorious corner of Portugal.

In this blog post, we’re going to explore things to do in Faro, the capital of the region. Here we’ll look at the Sé, or cathedral, the gorgeous Palacio de Estoi and the Roman ruins of Milreu.

The Sé

This Roman Catholic cathedral is a National Monument of Portugal and dates back to the late thirteenth century, where it was consecrated by the Archbishop of Braga. The site’s religious history stretches back even farther –  the current cathedral stands on what was once a Roman temple, then a Visigoth cathedral, and then a Moorish mosque before being rebuilt as a Roman Catholic church. Despite its long history and a sacking by the Earl of Essex in 1596, the cathedral still survives, and has been painstakingly rebuilt and restored over the years. Much of its original Romanesque-Gothic structure was destroyed in 1755, although the original tower gate and chapels remain. The interior of the cathedral features elaborate baroque side altarpieces, a baroque organ, and vaulted Gothic chapels, making it well worth the visit for history enthusiasts of this period.

Opening hours: 10am-6.30pm Mon-Fri, to 1pm Sat Jun-Aug, 10am-5pm Mon-Fri, to 1pm Sat Sep-May

Palacio de Estoi

Visitors to Faro shouldn’t miss the fabulous rococo Palace of Estoi. Built in the late nineteenth century, this magnificent pink and white palace is one of the finest examples of this type of architecture, and exemplifies the height of luxury and beauty for the time. The palace is now a hotel, but can still be explored and offers an excellent restaurant for visitors. Don’t simply view the interior – the grounds surrounding the palace offer as much and more, with its fantastic gardens and original azulejos, a type of blue and white ceramic tilework for which the region is famous.

While you’re visiting the Palacio de Estoi, make sure to also visit the nearby the ruins of the Roman villa of Milreu, which offers an amazing glimpse into the day-to-day life of the Romans in the first century AD. Here a large villa and multiple other building have been excavated, and fans of the Roman period will admire the gallery of columns surrounding the classic villa courtyard. This must-see location is so exciting that we’ll devote an entire blog post to it — be sure to catch it in our ongoing series on the Algarve!