The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agleyRobert Burns, To a mouse
I really couldn’t go to the Faro area without meeting up with blogging friend Restless Jo, could I? Or maybe I could! We planned to meet, naturally, but on the day fate intervened and our coffee date with her had to be … not cancelled, I hope, but certainly indefinitely postponed.
Nevertheless we still wanted to see Tavira, so we pressed ahead with our plan to catch a train and get there in time for coffee. I may not have managed to meet up with Jo; but I can still share our wanderings around this lovely town with her as a belated contribution to this week’s Monday Walks.
Tavira’s main station is a little way out of the old centre. But the walk from it is a delight if like me you enjoy photographing doors, windows and other architectural details.
The Ponte Romana
Arriving in the Praça da República we found it lined with a number of cafés, so we chose one and settled down to enjoy a morning coffee and a spell of people watching. After our coffees we strolled out on to the Ponte Romana where we’d hoped to meet Jo. The bridge, spanning the river Gilão, has in fact little to do with the Romans. The first bridge here was built by the Moors in the 12th century and later, in the Middle Ages, houses were built on it. That bridge collapsed in 1655 (the weight of the houses, I wonder?) and was rebuilt in its present form in 1667. However some sources I’ve consulted talk of an earlier Roman bridge on this site, part of the road linking Faro to Castro Marim on what is today the border with Spain.
Whatever its past history, today the bridge affords lovely views of the town. The sun was shining, a busker was playing … but the yellow and blue ribbons tied to the bridge were a sobering reminder that all was not so well in other parts of Europe.
Igreja da Misericórdia
Doubling back from the bridge we started to climb the steps to the castle. On the way up we stopped off to visit the Church of the Misericordia which was really worth seeing. It was built between 1541 and 1551 and is considered to be one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture in the Algarve region.
I was pleased I was allowed to take photos inside as the interior has some stunning azulejos which depict the fourteen Works of Mercy that inspired the founding of the sisterhood, plus scenes from the life of Christ. These date from the 18th century as do the altar and retablo which are even more striking.
We climbed the narrow spiral steps of the bell tower, finding the view interesting but not spectacular. And we visited a very good temporary exhibition of photography. It seemed to have no links to the church that we could fathom, other than being by local photographers!
The camera obscura
Continuing up the hill we came to the camera obscura in the old water tower you can see in my photo above (right side, on the horizon). The garden at the foot of the tower had some attractive plants and another good photo exhibition, this time macro insect photography. I was pleased to find that there was a lift to the top of the tower. There we enjoyed the ‘tour’ of the town given by our guide as he described the scenes displayed on the camera’s disc.
From the tower we went to the ruined castle, passing another church, Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo. This one however was closed
Tower of the Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo
The castle’s small garden was beautifully scented and full of colourful poppies. I took lots of flower photos here, some of which I used for the PhotoSpiralysis Droste edits in my recent Fabulous florals post.
We climbed to the castle ramparts for views down to the town; my featured photo was taken here.
The streets of Tavira
By now it was nearly lunch time. So we headed back down the hill and found a restaurant with open air seating on the far side of the river. We had an excellent meal here and enjoyed the setting, although the wind off the river was a bit sharp in the shade.
After lunch we strolled around some of the streets on that far side of the river before crossing back to do the same on ‘our’ side. Our footsteps led us along to the old fish market, now converted for use by shops and bars. In the nearby side streets we discovered an old unrestored but photogenic church, and some attractive doors and azulejos. I became somewhat obsessed with photographing the latter, but I’ll save them for a future post. Meanwhile here’s a selection of other photos I took that afternoon.
As the afternoon wore on we started to walk back up the hill to the station. There was time to photograph the moving military memorial outside the station before our train left.
We’d enjoyed lovely weather, beautiful historic architecture and a delicious lunch. What more could I have asked of our springtime stroll; other than of course the chance to have coffee with a blogging friend. That will have to wait for another opportunity …
I visited Tavira on a day trip from Faro in April 2022