24 May 2017:
Portimão, Portugal:
Blue Tiles, White Storks

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

I went for a visit back in time to the hillside town of Silves, a relatively untouched piece of Moorish culture in Portugal’s stunning Algarve region.

We were greeted first by storks,  who serve as the modern lookouts, perched atop chimneys and parapets and anywhere else they can plant a nest.

SILVES, May 24, 2017

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And then we went up the hill to see first the small Catholic cathedral, from about the year 1050,  and then behind it the Almohad Citadel, erected by the Moors in the 8th century.

The cathedral mixes  a bit of Roman columns with Moorish arches.

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MILES OF TILES

The local art scene includes some fine paintings, carvings, and architecture.

But the specialties of this part of the world have to include azulejos, blue-and-white painted tiles, dishes, and other ceramics. They’re not all blue, either.

Many older examples illustrate scenes from the bibles or the stories of saints. There are also landscapes, geometric patterns, and floral designs.

You’ll find them almost anywhere you go. In Portugal, you can find azulejos inside and outside of churches, palaces, ordinary houses and even train stations.

The technique came from Spain, which learned it from the Persians in the early 15th century. The word azulejos comes from the Arabic al zulayj, meaning “polished stone”.

Portimão is a small city, about 45,000 inhabitants, located on the estuary of the Arade River.

Since pre-Roman times, Portimão has made its living from fishing.

Today it is a major center for the sardine-canning industry, and also luring its shares of tourists.

VISIONS OF PORTIMÃO

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Azulejo tiles in Portimão

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Ponta da Piedade, near Portimão

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Lagos, Portugal

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Text and images copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

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