Silves, Portugal

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Cidade de Silves12.jpg
A panorama of Silves, showing the Moorish Castle
Coat of arms
Coordinates: 37°11′13″N8°26′20″W / 37.18694°N 8.43889°W / 37.18694; -8.43889 Coordinates: 37°11′13″N8°26′20″W / 37.18694°N 8.43889°W / 37.18694; -8.43889
CountryFlag of Portugal.svg  Portugal
Region Algarve
Intermunic. comm. Algarve
District Faro
Parishes 6
   President Rosa Palma (CDU)
  Total680.06 km2 (262.57 sq mi)
34 m (112 ft)
Lowest elevation
0 m (0 ft)
  Density55/km2 (140/sq mi)
Time zone WET/WEST (UTC+0/+1)

Silves (Portuguese pronunciation:  [ˈsilvɨʃ] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) is a municipality in the Portuguese Algarve of southern Portugal. [1] The population in 2011 was 37,126, [2] in an area of 680.06 km². [3] The urbanized area includes approximately 11,000 inhabitants. Silves is the former capital of the Kingdom of the Algarve and is of great historical importance. [4]

Concelho, is the Portuguese-language term for municipality, referring to the territorial division. In comparison, the word município refers to the organs of State. This differentiation is still in use in Portugal and some of its former overseas provinces, but is no longer in use in Brazil following the abolition of these organs, in favour of the French prefecture system.

Portugal Republic in Southwestern Europe

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country located mostly on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state of mainland Europe, being bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain. Its territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.

Algarve Region in Portugal

The Algarve is the southernmost region of continental Portugal. It has an area of 4,997 km2 (1,929 sq mi) with 451,006 permanent inhabitants, and incorporates 16 municipalities. The region has its administrative centre in the city of Faro, where both the region's international airport and public university, the University of Algarve, are located. Tourism and related activities are extensive and make up the bulk of the Algarve's summer economy. Production of food, which includes fish and other seafood, different types of fruit such as oranges, figs, plums, carob beans, and almonds, are also economically important in the region. Although Lisbon surpasses the Algarve in terms of tourism revenue, the Algarve is still, overall, considered to be the biggest and most important Portuguese tourist region, having received an estimated total of 7.1 million tourists in 2017. Its population triples in the peak holiday season due to seasonal residents. The Algarve is also increasingly sought after, mostly by central and northern Europeans, as a permanent place to settle. A 2016 American-based study concluded that the Algarve was the world's best place to retire.



The historical Cathedral of Silves with Manueline portico Catedral de Silves.JPG
The historical Cathedral of Silves with Manueline portico
A street in Silves Rua em Silves.JPG
A street in Silves

The region of Silves has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic, as attested by archaeological remains, including several menhirs. The river Arade, which was navigable in historical times, linked the hinterland to the open ocean and allowed the transport of produce and commerce. The town of Silves (Cilpes) was possibly founded during the times of Roman domination, when the region was part of the Lusitania province. It was probably a Lusitanian Castro in the pre-Roman times, [5] however the region was also settled by other Indo-European tribes, just like the Celtici and Cynetes (or Conii). Silves was also part of the Visigothic Kingdom.

Menhir Large upright standing stone

A menhir, standing stone, orthostat, or lith is a large man-made upright stone, typically dating from the European middle Bronze Age. They can be found solely as monoliths, or as part of a group of similar stones. Menhirs' size can vary considerably, but they are generally uneven and squared, often tapering towards the top.

Hispania Roman province

Hispania was the Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula and its provinces. Under the Republic, Hispania was divided into two provinces: Hispania Citerior and Hispania Ulterior. During the Principate, Hispania Ulterior was divided into two new provinces, Baetica and Lusitania, while Hispania Citerior was renamed Hispania Tarraconensis. Subsequently, the western part of Tarraconensis was split off, first as Hispania Nova, later renamed "Callaecia". From Diocletian's Tetrarchy onwards, the south of remaining Tarraconensis was again split off as Carthaginensis, and probably then too the Balearic Islands and all the resulting provinces formed one civil diocese under the vicarius for the Hispaniae. The name Hispania was also used in the period of Visigothic rule.

Lusitania Roman province

Lusitania or Hispania Lusitana was an ancient Iberian Roman province located where modern Portugal and part of western Spain lie. It was named after the Lusitani or Lusitanian people.

After 713, when the Moors invaded Iberia, Silves became part of the Umayyad Emirate of Córdoba under the Arabic name of Shilb (شلب). In the 10th century it was one of the most important towns of western Al-Andalus. Silves became an independent taifa in 1027 under the rule of Ibn Mozaine and his son, who was dethroned in 1051 by al-Mu'tadid, the governor of Seville. al-Mu'tamid ibn 'Abbad, the son of al-Mu'tadid and a famous poet, ruled the taifa of Silves until 1091. After the Almoravid conquest the town became Almohad in 1156.

Umayyad conquest of Hispania 8th century Muslim conquest of the Iberian peninsula

The Umayyad conquest of Hispania, also known as the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula or the Umayyad conquest of the Visigothic Kingdom, was the initial expansion of the Umayyad Caliphate over Hispania from 711 to 788. The conquest resulted in the destruction of the Visigothic Kingdom and the establishment of the independent Emirate of Córdoba under Abd ar-Rahman I, who completed the unification of the Muslim-ruled areas. The conquest marks the westernmost expansion of both the Umayyad Caliphate and Muslim rule into Europe.

Emirate of Córdoba independent emirate in the Iberian Peninsula

The Emirate of Córdoba was an independent emirate in the Iberian Peninsula ruled by the Umayyad dynasty with Córdoba as its capital.

Al-Andalus The territories of the Iberian Peninsula under Moorish rule between 711 and 1492

Al-Andalus, also known as Muslim Spain, Muslim Iberia, or Islamic Iberia, was a medieval Muslim territory and cultural domain that in its early period included most of Iberia, today's Portugal and Spain. At its greatest geographical extent, it occupied the northwest of the Iberian peninsula and a part of present-day southern France, Septimania, and for nearly a century extended its control from Fraxinet over the Alpine passes which connect Italy with the remainder of Western Europe. The name more generally describes the parts of the peninsula governed by Muslims at various times between 711 and 1492, though the boundaries changed constantly as the Christian Reconquista progressed, eventually shrinking to the south around modern-day Andalusia and then to the Emirate of Granada.

In 1189 King Sancho I of Portugal conquered (in the Reconquista) the town with the aid of Northern European crusaders. [6] Sancho ordered the fortification of the city and built a castle which is today an important monument of Portuguese heritage. At the time he also styled himself "By the Grace of God, King of Portugal and Silves (Dei Gratiæ, Rex Portugalliæ et Silbis). However, he soon lost it again to the Almohads. Periodic raiding expeditions were sent from Al-Andalus to ravage the Iberian Christian kingdoms, bringing back booty and slaves. The governor of Córdoba attacked Silves in 1191, and took 3,000 Christian slaves. [7] Again under Muslim rule, the city would then prosper to the point of being called the Baghdad of the West.

Sancho I of Portugal Koncho King of Portugal

Sancho I, nicknamed "the Populator", King of Portugal was the second but only surviving legitimate son and fifth child of Afonso I of Portugal by his wife, Maud of Savoy. Sancho succeeded his father and was crowned in Coimbra when he was 31 years old on 9 December 1185. He used the title King of Silves from 1189 until he lost the territory to Almohad control in 1191.

<i>Reconquista</i> Medieval Christian extended conquest of Muslim areas in the Iberian Peninsula

The Reconquista was the period in the history of the Iberian Peninsula of about 780 years between the Umayyad conquest of Hispania in 711 and the fall of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada to the expanding Christian kingdoms in 1492.

Córdoba, Spain Municipality in Andalusia, Spain

Córdoba, also spelled Cordova in English, is a city in Andalusia, southern Spain, and the capital of the province of Córdoba. It was a Roman settlement, taken over by the Visigoths, followed by the Muslim conquests in the eighth century. It became the capital in exile of the Umayyad Caliphate, the capital of the Islamic Spain, the Caliphate of Córdoba, Almohad and various other emirates. During these Islamic periods, Córdoba was transformed into a world leading center of education and learning, producing notable philosophers and scientists like Averroes and Al-Zahrawi, and by the 10th century it had grown to be the largest city in Europe, surpassing Constantinople. It was conquered by the Kingdom of Castile through the Christian Reconquista in 1236.

The town was finally taken from the last Muslim king Ibn Afan by Paio Peres Correia, Grand-Master of the Order of Santiago in 1242, after the Alentejo and most of the coast had already fallen in 1238. The great mosque was changed into Silves Cathedral (Sé Catedral). Silves declined in importance thereafter and was eclipsed in the region by Faro during the colonial period. In 1491, the town of Silves was given to queen Eleanora by her husband, king John II of Portugal.

Paio Peres Correia Portuguese noble

D. Paio Peres Correia, a notable medieval Portuguese Christian conqueror of the Reconquista, who was born c. 1205, in Monte de Fralães, parish of Barcelos in Portugal.

Alentejo geographical, historical and cultural region of Portugal

The Alentejo is a geographical, historical and cultural region of south central and southern Portugal. In Portuguese, its name means "beyond the Tagus river" (Tejo).

Mosque Place of worship for followers of Islam

A mosque is a place of worship for Muslims. Any act of worship that follows the Islamic rules of prayer can be said to create a mosque, whether or not it takes place in a special building. Informal and open-air places of worship are called musalla, while mosques used for communal prayer on Fridays are known as jāmiʿ. Mosque buildings typically contain an ornamental niche (mihrab) set into the wall that indicates the direction of Mecca (qiblah), ablution facilities and minarets from which calls to prayer are issued. The pulpit (minbar), from which the Friday sermon (khutba) is delivered, was in earlier times characteristic of the central city mosque, but has since become common in smaller mosques. Mosques typically have segregated spaces for men and women. This basic pattern of organization has assumed different forms depending on the region, period and denomination.


A view of the historical centre of Silves overlooking the Castle and Cathedral Vista de Silves - 26-04-2018.jpg
A view of the historical centre of Silves overlooking the Castle and Cathedral

Parts of the Almohad town wall, constructed from poured concrete, have been preserved, as well as the Almedina-gate (Porta de Loulé). Other sights include the Santa Misericórdia Church with a fine door in Manueline style (the main body of the church was built in 1727-28); a museum for cork and the production of bottle corks in a defunct factory which is now also a centre for cultural events called "Fábrica do Inglês (The Englishman's Factory); and the municipal museum (Museu Municipal de Arqueologia) with findings from the palaeolithic onwards.

Loulé Municipality in Algarve, Portugal

Loulé is a municipality in the Portuguese Algarve, district of Faro. In 2011, the population had 70,622 inhabitants, in an area of approximately 763.67 square kilometres (294.85 sq mi). The municipality have two principal cities: Loulé and Quarteira.

Manueline architectural style

The Manueline, or Portuguese late Gothic, is the sumptuous, composite Portuguese style of architectural ornamentation of the first decades of the 16th century, incorporating maritime elements and representations of the discoveries brought from the voyages of Vasco da Gama and Pedro Álvares Cabral. This innovative style synthesizes aspects of Late Gothic architecture with influences of the Spanish Plateresque style, Mudéjar, Italian urban architecture, and Flemish elements. It marks the transition from Late Gothic to Renaissance. The construction of churches and monasteries in Manueline was largely financed by proceeds of the lucrative spice trade with Africa and India.

Cork (material) material derived from the cork oak

Cork is an impermeable buoyant material, the phellem layer of bark tissue that is harvested for commercial use primarily from Quercus suber, which is endemic to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. Cork is composed of suberin, a hydrophobic substance. Because of its impermeable, buoyant, elastic, and fire retardant properties, it is used in a variety of products, the most common of which is wine stoppers. The montado landscape of Portugal produces approximately half of cork harvested annually worldwide, with Corticeira Amorim being the leading company in the industry. Cork was examined microscopically by Robert Hooke, which led to his discovery and naming of the cell.

The town is situated on a hill above the Arade River. Silves Castle is located on the top of the hill. It occupies ca. 12,000 m². Archaeological excavations have shown that the oldest buildings date back to the 8th century, the stratigraphy is almost 6 m deep and contains Iron Age remains as well. The walls are made of red sandstone (grés de Silves) with a pisé-core and have been heavily restored in the 1940s. Protruding towers of albarra-type protect the Northern slope. After the Christian conquest, the castle served as the seat of the alcaide-mor (provincial governor) till the middle of the 16th century, afterwards the towers were used as a prison.


The municipality is crossed by the Arade River, which was navigable in historical times and was key to the prosperity of the city of Silves. The waters of the river form the dams of Arade and Funcho. The landscape of the municipality is generally hilly. To the south the municipality borders the Atlantic Ocean.

Silves is built on top of one of the largest underground aquifers in the south of Portugal, The Querença-Silves Aquifer , and has many orange groves, a fruit introduced by the Moors.

Human geography

Population of
(1801 - 2011)
1801 10,509    
1849 15,509+47.6%
1900 29,598+90.8%
1930 34,461+16.4%
1960 33,368−3.2%
1981 31,389−5.9%
1991 32,924+4.9%
2001 33,830+2.8%
2004 34,909+3.2%
2011 37,126+6.4%

Administratively, the municipality is divided into 6 civil parishes ( freguesias ): [8]


Deutsche Schule Algarve , a German international school, is in the city. [9]

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Castle of Alvor building in Alvor, Faro District, Portugal

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  1. Detail Regional Map, Algarve-Southern Portugal, ISBN   3-8297-6235-6
  2. Instituto Nacional de Estatística
  3. "Áreas das freguesias, concelhos, distritos e país". Archived from the original on 2018-11-05. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  4. Grande enciclopédia portuguesa e brasileira: Actualização, Zairol, 1998, ISBN   972-9362-16-5
  6. Charles Wendell David, ed. Narratio de Itinere Navali Peregrinorum Hierosolymam Tendentium et Silviam Capientium, A.D. 1189. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 81 (Dec., 1939): 591-676.
  7. Ransoming Captives in Crusader Spain: The Order of Merced on the Christian-Islamic Frontier
  8. Diário da República . "Law nr. 11-A/2013, page 552 115" (pdf) (in Portuguese). Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  9. "Die Schulstruktur." Deutsche Schule Algarve . Retrieved on 19 February 2015. "DSA – Escola Alemã do Algarve Sitio do Lobito P-8300-054 Silves"
Municipality of Faro District (Algarve)


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