Cidade Velha’ – the portion of the city – is on the side of Faro marina. Walk through the arch (Arco da Vila) from the Algarve tourist information office at the end of this Manuel Bivar gardens and adhere to the narrow, cobbled street, Rua do Municipio to the tree-lined Largo p Sé. Faro Cathedral, in the middle of the square, might not look very grand from the outside, but inside is another story – the intricate gilded carving, decorated tiles (azulejos) and works of art are well worth viewing. It originates from the 13th/14th centuries (though much of the inner decoration is the 17th century) and, despite needing to be repaired after being ransacked and set alight by the Earl of Essex’s men in 1596 and damaged in the earthquake of 1755, still has the first doorway and two original chapels.

 photoPhoto by D-Stanley

Divided into two main areas, the Vila-Adentro, the oldest part; and also the Mouraria, the Moorish place, the Cidade Velha is a delightful mixture of Moorish remains and eighteenth-century Portuguese Baroque, Gothic, and other architectural fashions and you’re going to gaze in the Arco da Vila, Arco do Repouso, Arco da Porta Nova, and many other sites of great interest. Many times due to a combination of planned attacks and natural disasters, walking through those roads and damaged is a stroll through this city and its country’s past. The Cidade Velha of Faro is among the places of the area!

The earliest district in Belém, Cidade Velha is home to examples of colonial architecture. Amongst the many palaces, churches and colonial mansions, don’t miss the glorious white Church of St. Alexander, currently home to the Museum of Sacred Art of Pará, or the literally called Palace of Eleven Windows. The beauty of the structure is matched by Mangal das Garças (“Mangrove of the Herons”), a 40,00 sqm (430,556 sq ft) nature reserve home to diverse species of birds, both wild and in an aviary, and a butterfly garden with almost 800 insects.

 photoPhoto by D-Stanley

Cidade Velha Restaurant

The service was exceptional and very responsive. This restaurant is situated under the walls of this cathedral that was old so the place is wonderful. The food is quite good, mid-priced and well served.

Outside of the ‘Cidade Velha’, following the waterfront around the corner from Faro marina, is Porta Nova pier where you can find a ferry. We enjoyed the boat ride through the Ria Formosa – about a 30-minute trip each way – spotting a few birds along the road, pottering through the calm waters in between the marshy outcrops and usually watching the world go by. Also an opportunity to get another view of Faro.

If you’re looking for a walk back in time at an authentic place, Cidade Velha (the Old City), a well-preserved section of Faro near the refuge with beautiful 18th century Portuguese and Moorish-influenced architecture, is definitely the place you need to go. Walking through the city’s past, you will enjoy finding the reimbursement of the older city of Faro and the remains of its Roman and Moorish occupation.

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