Portimão is that intriguing mix of shabby and chique that, for me, typifies the Algarve. Always assuming you can find it, that is! Portimão is a big city by Algarve standards, but still I struggled to locate it. Fortunately for me, my driver has a much better sense of direction.
Heading for the city centre, we managed to end up at the beach, at neighbouring Praia da Rocha. That was fine and produced a highly enjoyable Monday walk last week. In theory, we then just needed to follow the mouth of the River Arade inland till we came to the waterfront at Portimão. ‘Oops- I think it’s back that way’ sound familiar to you? I think my advice to strangers would be to catch the bus! The bus station is, conveniently, right alongside the waterfront. But if you do manage to find it by car, there’s a generous parking area.
So what will you find, and does it repay the effort? Well, boats, of course, and fish (Portimão boasts an impressive selection of fish restaurants). Come stroll with me along the Manuel Bivar gardens at the waterfront. Then we can delve a little into the history of this town.
Aside from the fishing industry the city hosts numerous sailing events, and the Portuguese Gran Prix of the Sea, for those who like noisy powerboats. In Summer you can catch a boat all the way up the river to beautiful Silves. At this time of year, the waterfront is peaceful, peopled simply with a series of sculptures.
The promenade continues to Largo de Barca, the home of many of the simple fish restaurants. Sizzling sardines are the staple diet in these parts. A bridge spans the enormous width of the river at this point. On the far shore, pretty Ferragudo. For many years access was by ferry only.
With its excellent situation, in the natural shelter of the River Arade, Portimão began to develop into an important trading centre from the time of the Phoenicians. In 1435 it was awarded town status and walls were constructed to protect growing prosperity, and prevent pirate raids. Two forts were built at the river mouth- Santa Catarina, featured in last week’s Praia da Rocha walk and, across the river in Ferragudo, the picturesque Castelo de São João. The earthquake of 1755 did major damage to the town walls. Santa Catarina fort was damaged too, but was later reconstructed.
Turn in on Rua Professore Jose Buisel, from Largo de Barco, and you are in a neighbourhood of slightly down-at-heel fishermen’s homes. Many still have original azulejo tiles, with religious images above the door. The road leads toward the pedestrianised shopping area. The spire of the mother church, Igreja Matriz, provides a good landmark in its elevated position above Praca da Republica. A huge Jesuit college dominates the Praca. You are very welcome to look inside.
From the Praca, turn right down Rua Diogo Tome and you are heading back towards the river. The shops in this area are smart, so it comes as a bit of a surprise to come upon some wall art.
I was heading towards Largo 1st de Dezembro because I’d read about some azulejo tiled benches there. If you saw my Six word Saturday this week you’ll know that I’ve been collecting bench photos lately. The benches commemorate famous dates in Portuguese history.
The benches are a little shabby these days, and slightly incongruous in a busy city square, but you can still admire the artistry. I imagine on a fine day in Summer that the benches would all be taken with office workers on their lunch break. I stole a longing look at the most elegant of cake shops, but it was time to return to the waterfront, just ahead of me. I reflected as I did how foolish that I had been unable to find this vast river in a city which orients itself totally to the sea.
Had it been worth it? I think so. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Portimão a little better. I hope you did too. If you prefer to see it bustling with people, a huge market wraps around Largo de Barco at the beginning of each month.
Lots of walks to share this week! You’ll need plenty of stamina. And a cuppa or two! If you’re new to my walks just click on the logo to find out how to join in. To everybody else, thank you for your fantastic contributions and for making Jo’s Monday walk a success.
As always, Drake is here, waiting, to make me smile. Isn’t he the nicest guy?
Paula always has something beautiful to share, and this week is no exception :
Tobias is in the woods this week. My favourite is number two. How about you?
If anyone you know can have fun with symmetry, it has to be Yvette!
Anabel takes us walking by Loch Lomond. The islands are beautiful!
Jude’s taking us to sunny Australia. Form an orderly line, please!
Please welcome newcomer (to my blog) Geoff! As the song goes…
Or you could venture into the Polish capital, with Meg. Please do! She’d love your company :
And there’s the cutest squirrel in this one!
Esther charmingly rhymes as she walks :
Elizabeth revives some beautiful memories :
And Minou takes us canal rambling in Holland (or you could grab a bike!)
And then climbing the most beautiful windmill. You can just watch if you’re tired.
Pauline is posting a storm warning. By the time you read this it will have passed over, with not too much damage, I very much hope.
If temple ruins in Laos appeal, this is the post for you!
So many fantastic places to visit in this world, aren’t there? Thanks again everybody. Have a happy week, and keep walking!