Loule to me means just one thing. Carnaval! This quiet inland market town in the Algarve is no Rio de Janeiro, but it knows how to party. For over 100 years they have celebrated the beginning of Lent with Carnaval, Portuguese style. No shortage of dancing girls either, though they often have to dance hard to keep warm.
Carnaval 2012 was a classic, and I made a surprising guest appearance! Fortunately I was very easily overlooked in the crowd. Numerous photos of the Carnaval floats, of a distinctly political but humorous nature, appear in my post ‘C is for Carnaval’, so I won’t reproduce them all here. The town’s main street, Avenida Jose de Costa Mealha, is closed for the event and there is a small charge. Don’t miss it if you are in the neighbourhood!
Normally Loule (pronounced Loo-lay, incidentally) is rather more sedate. One of the most distinctive features of the town is the Arab style market, pictured in my first photograph. Smaller shops surround the market stalls and it is a treat for both eyes and nose. On Saturday mornings an open air market takes over the outdoor space too. Parking becomes no easy matter.
On my first visit to Loule I remember having to search for the remaining fragment of the town walls and the 13th century castle, but I liked what I found. Entrance to the walls is through a small museum, which traces the town’s history back through Roman to medieval times. It has the vaulted brick ceilings that I love.
The older part of town is fairly compact , and the narrow cobbled streets reveal artisan workshops and some lovely craft shops. Following the twists and turns you will come to a small square containing the town’s main church, Igreja de S. Clemente, and a tiny garden, Jardim dos Amuados, an ancient Arab cemetery.
Loule’s main landmark is visible from the A22 motorway when driving past the town. Nossa Senhora da Piedade is a dome shaped modern church which sits on a hill to the west of town. At Easter there is a huge procession in honour of the Sovereign Mother. This must be one of the few things I haven’t yet managed to see in the Algarve.
Loule is well worth a look when you’ve tired of the beaches and need a little historical detail, or a shopping bonanza. A few parking hints and a lot of photos are available in C is for Carnaval.
For now I’ll simply thank Frizz for his inspiring A-Z series. With Tagged L this week he is just about managing to keep me on track. Grateful thanks are also due to Julie Dawn Fox, who started the Personal A-Z Challenge a long time ago! Some day I’ll manage to complete it for both countries. Join me in the challenges if you can.