Jo’s Monday walk : Loulé Uncovered

Nossa Senhora

Nossa Senhora da Piedade

Perched high on a hill, overlooking the Algarve, Nossa Senhora da Piedade at Loulé is one of those places I’d always meant to visit.  When I finally did, it had a wonderful surprise in store.

A ‘scramble’ of a market town, Loulé dates back at least till Roman times.  We’ll have a wander through the historic centre shortly, but first I want to take you up to the heights with me.

It's a long way up!

Looking down from the Chapel

The original Chapel of our Lady of Mercy (Nossa Senhora da Piedade) was built in 1553, but was partially destroyed in the earthquake of 1755.  Driving along the A22 motorway past Loulé, the modern dome is clearly visible above the town.  I had often wondered how it looked in close up.

The dome

The dome in close up, with alarmingly grey skies

Looking up to the bell tower

Looking up to the bell tower

On Easter Sunday a huge celebration begins here, Festa da Mãe Soberana (the feast of the Sovereign Mother).  A statue of the patron saint is carried from her resting place, in the Sanctuary, down the hill to the Church of San Francisco, on Festa Pequena.(Small Feast)  Two weeks later, on Festa Grande, she is returned to her home on the holy mountain, with full ceremony, prayers and fireworks.  I would love to see the spectacle of the procession.  For now I have to content myself with a look at Mãe Soberana, quietly waiting.

The statue, resting inside the Sanctuary

The statue, resting inside the Sanctuary

From afar the domed building appears to be the entirety of the church, so I was delighted to find the chapel restoration alongside. Known as the ‘House of Candles’, the tiny space is exquisite. Ceiling paintings dating from 1760 had been damaged by smoke from the candle offerings but were restored when the modern building was constructed.  The wall panels depicting the Passion of Christ are from a later date.

Ceiling paintings from 1760

Ceiling paintings from 1760



I love the contrast of old and new.  Time to come back down to earth and begin our stroll.  I would not recommend climbing the steps to Nossa Senhora. Doing so carrying the saint must be quite an ordeal.  Unless it’s Easter, there’s ample parking up there.

Leaving the Sanctuary behind

Leaving the Sanctuary behind

The streets below are made for strolling.  Tile patterns beneath your feet enhance your wander.

The pedestrianised streets of the centre

The pedestrianised streets of the centre

The excellent website  Loulé Uncovered will guide you around Loulé better than I could ever hope to do.  There you will find a map and suggestions of what you can hope to see.  On Saturday mornings the market will be in full swing. At most other times you will still be treated to the splendour of the Arabian style market hall.  Poke your nose inside. The sights and smells will capture your senses.

The main street and the Arabian market

The main street and the Arabian market

Loulé Castle dates from 13th century and still retains its imposing walls and a keep. Artisans practise their crafts in the surrounding streets.  Follow them through to the Largo da Matriz and the main church of Loulé, Igreja de S. Clemente.  The procession will pass by here on Festa Grande.  A small garden, Jardim dos Amuados (Garden of Sulks) nestles behind the church. The view sweeps out across the valley and there on the hill, Nossa Senhora da Piedade.

Click on the gallery and we’ll stroll


I hope that you found Loulé interesting.  I was so glad I finally made it up that hill.  My L is for Loule has a few more details, including some lively Carnival scenes.

Next week my walk will bring me nearer home.  I would love it if you could join me there.

walking logo

How to join in with the walks?  Click on the logo or my Jo’s Monday walk page for the details. Thank you so much to all my contributors.  You brighten up my Mondays.  Let’s get that kettle on and settle back for a good read, shall we?


Sit beside the fire in a cosy armchair with Drake.  Or party at magnificent St. George Hall!  :

Beyond the Frontage

Debbie’s found another intriguing canal in the city(with street art!) :

Vienna’s Arty Canal

I asked Esther for a walking song and this is what I got!  Applaud the lady!

Walk with a Crocodile

Amy has such fun on her Sunday walks.  You have to join her!

The Final Race

Geoff’s been checking up on street art too, including the famous Stik :

Dulwich Street Art 

What can you say about Yvette?  A heart of gold comes to mind :

Florida and B & W Day 3 

Please welcome Becky everybody.  She likes to spend some of her Winter on the Algarve, and enjoys bird watching :

Ludo and Lago de Sao Lourenco

Not so fortunate, Violet Sky joins us again with some seriously depressing weather  :

Expect delays

Japan has a culture all its own, and I’m enjoying learning about it with the Eternal Traveller  :

Do you speak English?

And lastly, a riverside walk beside the Exe, with lovely Gilly (and her dogs)  :

Strolling Route 2

I’m nearly ready to head off out now.  Hope you all have a wonderful week and can make time for a walk or two.


    1. Thank you 🙂 There are so many beautiful churches in the Algarve. I’m looking forward to returning this month to hunt out a few more lovely spots. Many thanks for the follow 🙂


  1. I find the Moorish influences particularly appealing Jo. The mosaic patterns on those pavements are always a favourite and the stately beauty in the restaurant is a great find. Thanks for a fabulous walk! 🙂


  2. What a lovely walk, Jo. I also love the co-existence of the old and the new parts of the church. Something we need to work on here so we can preserve more of our heritage. The Garden of Sulks…..well, I would have to sit there for a while. Apparently it is an old cemetery. 🙂


    1. I was a bit sulky with the weather that day 🙂 But it stayed mostly dry for the Carnival parade and that was the main thing. How are you doing? It’s lovely to hear from you again. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. One of the best Algarve destinations you’ve shared with us. The outside, the inside, the chapel, all look beautiful and interesting. Plus, a lovely tour around. The angel heads look scary, but wonderful nonetheless. 😀


    1. Hi Rosemay! Lovely to hear from you 🙂 I was digging in my old posts the other day because I remembered to look for Panorama Raclawice in Wroclaw. I searched and searched and came to the conclusion that I hadn’t included it (the reason being, I presume, that I didn’t have any good photos inside). I looked on Wikipedia and there were scant details there too. I meant to come back and tell you, but, as always, the moment passed… sorry! I remember discussing it at some point with Andrew Petcher in ‘comments’ so maybe that was what was in my mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So refreshing light and well … Continental … Lovely Loule Jo . No more lighting candles then by the sound of it … The Garden of Sulks …makes me smile … glad to hear it was small 🙂


  5. Hi Jo, sorry I never got back to you about Nossa Senhora da Piedade. We found it extraordinary – the beauty of the church for its simplicity and the chapel for its incredible wood paintings, tiles and wall art. We must have spent 20minutes just sitting there letting it all soak in. Thank you so much as we would never have visited without this post, and was special to do it on the Monday too!


    1. I’m really glad you liked it, Becky! It wasn’t really a cohesive ‘walk’ as such, but then, I give people free license when they post a walk on mine and I sometimes take a bit of license myself. I got quite a surprise when you said you’d been. 🙂 I would have liked to go in the San Francisco church too but there wasn’t really parking and we were en route to Carnival.
      That’s probably my last Algarve walk till we go back next month.


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