Silves is a municipality in the Algarve region of Portugal. It has a population of over 33,000 and the town of Silves has a population of more than ten thousand. As the former capital of the Algarve, Silves is still an important area and one filled with historical significance.
The Arade River passes through the municipality of Silves. As a navigable river it was the primary key to the historic prosperity of the area. Much river traffic ensued between the municipalities of Silves, Lagoa and Portimao, and the river’s length of more than forty six miles before finally spilling out into the Atlantic ensured that it was a busy route for trade. In modern times the river has been dammed in two places to regulate the silt build up but as a result the water level has dropped and hinders the kind of traffic the river once enjoyed.
Inhabited since the Paleolithic era, the actual town of Silves was likely established during the Roman’s who settled there to control river trade. Silves’ strategic location ensured that it changed hands many times as one force conquered another and controlled not just this once prosperous town but also the river trade.
The colorful and varied history of the area is attested by the number of historical sites that have been preserved and the town of Silves in particular is rife with artifacts. Parts of the Sé Velha, or Old Cathedral date back to the late 13th century and this building is a fascinating study in architecture. There are a variety of other churches in Silves including the Misericórdia Church and the Chapel of Nossa Senhora dos Mártires both of which are of additional historical value.
Silves is also home to the largest castle in Portugal. With construction dating back to the 4th century this castle is also among the oldest and best preserved in the country. Silves Castle has eleven towers connected by thick brick walls and vaulted hallways, gothic doorways and gates still remain and are open to tourist visits. Of particular interest is that the castle may be toured after dark and it is then that the weight of history descends to walk the ancient hall and pathways.
The town of Silves has managed to maintain its identity and traditional atmosphere despite the turning of the centuries. The historical center of town is still laid out as it was in medieval times with narrow cobblestone streets flanked by whitewashed homes and buildings complete with the traditional terra cotta tile roofs. This sense of antiquity blends harmoniously with the newer portions of town which are supported by the omnipresent tourism industry.
Like much of the rest of the Algarve region, Silves has its share of tourist attractions and the reasons for visiting or purchasing in this area are many. Not only does it seamlessly combine old with new, but the areas beaches and golf courses are counted among the best in the area. In addition to the other usual tourist trappings, the town of Silves is home to the vastly popular Fabrica Ingles which is an area inside a renovated former cork factory. Today it contains bars and cafes clustered around the central outdoor area, and most importantly it is home to the yearly Beer Festival which takes place each July.
The town of Silves has a variety of available properties for those who are interested in purchasing a primary residence or property for investment purposes. Older more traditional homes and businesses are available closer to the center of town, while newer developments house apartments, townhomes and villas on the outskirts. Residential communities are a popular choice in Silves as they provide a sense of community to the residents in what would be an otherwise quiet neighborhood.
From the orange groves to the ancient ruins, Silves is a town of historic importance and of modern interest. It has benefitted from the tourism industry and yet has maintained its traditional atmosphere and is the perfect choice for those wishing to live in the highly popular Algarve region without being in the epicenter of the tourism industry.