Faro. Then only the ocean
Transit through Faro
If you are ever asked: which is the southernmost city of the westernmost country in Europe, do not hesitate to answer: Faro.
And Faro is a transit city that many people come across on the way, but not many people honor it with their visit. So in the index of one fairly detailed guide to Portugal in the section with the letter " f "there is" Fig tree, square (Lisbon) "and" fronteira, Palace (Lisbon)", but there is no Faro. As if this town, located in the very South of continental Portugal, is not the administrative center of the province of Algarve, as well as the sea and air port of the country.
By the way, the airport in Faro is quite famous, the second in Portugal in terms of international passenger traffic after the airport in Lisbon. It is located very close to the city, 6-7 kilometers, no more, which is reminiscent of taking off or on the contrary, coming in to land every 15-20 minutes, and visible so low that it seems you can jump up and touch their tail with your hand.
People arrive in Faro and spread out who where: in the resorts of southern Portugal, and maybe further, including neighboring Andalusia. Only a few remain in Faro, one word transit city. I also arrived in Faro in transit, but still stayed in this provincial town for part of the day and night.
Let me remind you that having exactly two weeks between the date of arrival and the date of departure from the airport of Malaga, I was planning my route for a long time when I reached Seville. Where to go next? Continue to travel around Andalusia or give your second week to neighboring Portugal?
You always sacrifice something when you have a choice. You choose one, you lose the other. It would be possible to explore more thoroughly the areas of southern Spain, but not to see the westernmost European country, which has such a unique flavor.
As an option, should we leave Portugal for later? But who guarantees me that it will be later. No one, including myself.
I also like to combine neighboring countries whenever possible to get to know each of them better by contrast and comparison. I have practiced this more than once, and I have told you about it more than once. Slovakia and Hungary, Moldova and Romania, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania and Latvia, Malaysia and Brunei, Scandinavian countries, this list of combinations only for the last three or four years. Spanish Andalusia and Portugal are a successful couple this year.
So, on may 16, 2019, at 10: 00, I took an ALSA bus from the Seville station to the Plaza de Armas and exactly 2, 5 hours later I got off at the Faro bus station, thus beginning the Portuguese part of my Iberian March.
In the historical center of the city
Navigator reported that from the bus station to the hostel where I had a room reserved, no more than 10 minutes on foot. I had to kill an hour and a half to arrive at the settlement by the stated time.
The first on the way came across a picturesque city Harbor-a Parking lot for yachts and small vessels.
It is from this place that sea excursions begin, one of which I really wanted to get to to diversify my stay in this city. The fact is that Faro is located on the shores of the Gulf of Ria Formosa, which in turn is a unique water reserve.
However, all the main excursions started early in the morning and I did not get on them in any case. However, one option for the evening was drawn, not so very cool, but still.
And in the next three or four hours, I had to get acquainted with the historical center of the city and the history of this place, which, by the way, goes back not just a few centuries, but millennia.
After a nice and inexpensive lunch in one of the cafes on the main street of Rua di Santo antónio, I arrived at the place of my temporary residence exactly at the appointed time.
I already knew that once, before our era, Faro was called Ossonoba and that it arose as a result of the Phoenician colonization of the Western coast of the Mediterranean sea. Due to its geographical location, Ossonoba was a successful logistics hub for many centuries, retaining this function in the later Greek, Carthaginian and even Roman periods.
The Romans controlled this territory until the fifth century ad, when they were displaced by the Visigoths who came to the Iberian Peninsula, officially recognized as the forerunners of the modern Spanish and Portuguese.
In 711, almost the entire territory of present-day Spain and Portugal, as is known, was annexed by the Moors and the city of Ossonoba (or rather, already Santa Maria Ossonoba) became known by the strange name of Santa Maria Ibn Harun. Why "Ibn Harun", it seems logical and understandable, is the name of a Muslim ruler of the city. But why the prefix "Saint Mary" remained, which appeared after the Visigoths adopted Catholicism, is not at all clear. Is this another proof of the religious tolerance of the enlightened Moors who came to the Peninsula, which I, with the tenacity of a rhinoceros beetle, promote from story to story?
But no, we are no longer in Andalusia, and I will not raise the subject of Moorish rule again. In addition, despite the long presence of Moors in these places, up to 1249, no glorious Moorish heritage, as in the Andalusian cities, was preserved in Faro. And the so-called "sidadi Velha", the Old city, the result of human activity after the Reconquista.
No, traces of earlier periods are still present. The same walls of the Old city are still of Roman origin, and in the time of the Moors and restored and strengthened. But really, at the present time, the evidence of ancient times takes place only in fragments, more hints, and not the fact that in its original form, but largely modified.
After the expulsion of the Moors, peaceful life in those parts did not come at all. Walls and structures were destroyed by the next invasion, restored and rebuilt in accordance with new circumstances. And then the earthquake of 1755 made its destructive mark.
If a modern city begins with a railway station, then a medieval one begins with the entrance gate of the fortress walls. Here you get to the Old city of Faro through the Arch-da-Vila (Arco da Vila), which existed since Roman times, but was transformed into a neoclassical style after the above-mentioned earthquake.
The arch is decorated with a marble statue of Thomas Aquinas, I can't say why. It seems that the Italian philosopher and theologian, canonized by the Catholic Church as a Saint, has never visited these places and has no special merits before Faro. Maybe it was the idea of an architect named Fabri, a Genoese by origin, who carried out the reconstruction of the arch, or the wish of the Bishop of the city of those years, Francisco Gomis do Avelara, or maybe the Saint is just incredibly photogenic, but the fact is that Thomas Aquinas opens the entrance to the city.
After passing through the arch, you see what you expect to see: cobbled streets with white houses, originally from the middle Ages.
The walls of the houses are noticeably shabby, traces of desolation are visible to the naked eye. As it turned out later, this state of buildings and territories is very typical for Portugal and gives the objects a peculiar charm.
Further on, in the spacious Cathedral square (Largo da Sé), you can also expect to see the local Cathedral (Sé Catedral de Faro).
It was built in the 13th century, immediately after the expulsion of the Moors from the city. However, there is no evidence that it was built on the site of a Muslim mosque. Although it should be, in theory, exactly so. The Moors lived in this city for several centuries,and what is now called the Old city, during their rule was called "moraria", that is, "Moorish district", respectively, there were compact Arabs.
But I have already said that there is almost no surviving Moorish heritage in Faro, and this is the feature of the city that I particularly remember, against the background of the magnificent Andalusian cities I have just seen.
I didn't go inside the Cathedral.
You know, after the Cathedral of Seville seen the day before, the pulpit in Faro looked as bleak as an abandoned chicken coop against the background of the estate of the former Minister of Finance.
No, this is just my personal decision. Of course, the Cathedral in Faro is worthy of your visit, if you are already in this town. It is old, combines Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque, inside, as witnesses say, covered with tiles of the 17th century, obviously has a considerable number of advantages. And the entrance fee is not so big — 4 euros. We will assume that this was a manifestation of satiety with Catholic religious buildings, which, however, quickly passed in Lisbon and especially in the Port.
So, after honoring the Cathedral with an external inspection and greeting Bishop Francisco Gomes do Avelar, who was immortalized in the monument for his services in restoring the Cathedral after the Lisbon earthquake, I went to the nearby Episcopal Palace (Paco Episcopal de Faro).
I must say that the Bishop's Palace is the current residence of the head of the provincial diocese.
It is theoretically possible to get inside, but as far as I understand, only as part of a pre-agreed tour. Of course, I did not have such an agreement, but the meeting with this object did not pass without benefit.
There is such a concept-the Portuguese roof, a kind of pyramid shape. It is believed that this type of roof is a true Portuguese invention, which spread around the world first through the Portuguese colonies, and then around the world. Well, the Bishop's Palace is crowned with exactly the same roof that I saw for the first time, but not for the last time. There will be five days in Portugal and an incalculable number of Portuguese roofs.
There are several other churches in the city, including the original Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo known for its Capela dos Ossos (chapel of bones). I have given up the dubious pleasure of looking at the skulls and bones of monks embedded in the walls of the chapel, for I have no necrophilic urges. But if you have any, do not use this opportunity, especially since I have heard that at the entrance to the chapel there is one invocation inscription, something like-"Our bones are waiting for your".
I met another monument on the way, this time to king Afonso III.
This Portuguese king rightfully occupies a place in the center of the Old city, because it was during his reign after the capture of Faro from the Moors that the Algarve region became part of his Kingdom.
Completing the report on a walk through the Old city of Faro, I will mention the so-called Faro castle. It appeared in the 18th century, when the ancient walls were adapted for defensive purposes.
Once there was the headquarters and barracks of an artillery regiment, but however, the building has not been used for military purposes for a long time. Since the end of the 19th century, this "castle", which looks like a fortress from afar, has passed into private hands and was rebuilt as a brewery, which I thought was very strange.
That's probably all I found out about the old city of Faro. Moreover, it is not large in size, to put it mildly.
Modern Faro, however, has even fewer informational reasons. In the evening, after a boat trip, I enjoyed a walk along the Central streets of the city, nicely paved with paving slabs.
The two-or three-story buildings, the first floors of which are reserved for shops and cafes, looked quite cozy. But no more than that.
I will consider my story from Faro complete