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. 🙂

  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.

  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.

    1. She had a couple of companions too, Gem. 🙂 It was just a little cafe but in the niches in the stone walls were the loveliest figures. Never know what you might find, do you? Thanks for the kind words, Gem. Sending hugs :).

  6. So glad that the artwork was restored, and exquisite it is indeed, just beautiful. The older part of the chapel reminds me of those we saw in Crete. Quite a climb I imagine, but well worth it, and then the gorgeous market below. Loule is very interesting indeed, another fascinating walk, thank you Jo for letting me tag along as usual, albeit it a little late…as usual… 🙂

    1. I love latecomers, Sherri! Gives me chance to get my breath back 🙂 I did suggest to Mick we climb those steps , or at least go down them to look at the San Francisco church below. He wasn’t having any of that because the car was parked up top and we were on our way to watch the Carnival parade. 🙂

      1. You know I’ll always make it over here Jo, wouldn’t miss it 🙂 It was good there was parking up there…and a great view!

    1. Mine too, Anabel 🙂 I saw your link before the comment and that’s a walk I’m definitely looking forward to. That and Water of Leith have been on my list for a while. Many thanks 🙂

  7. Spiffing perspectives Jo. I love the “looking down” and the one with the market. With Spring coming your crowd of walkers is getting bigger and bigger 😀 Bless….

    1. Hi Paula 🙂 So glad to see you on here. I’ve been so worried about you, in a helpless sort of way. I’m just back from an ‘unintentional’ walk. 🙂 We went to Durham to do a few jobs and a stroll by the river. The sun came out as we were about to head home and I remembered a walk my friend who lives there had suggested. (involving ‘wicker’ people 🙂 ) Worn out now 🙂 🙂 Thanks for your company, hon, and please take care of yourself.

  8. What an amazing little town you’ve discovered Jo. I am loving those intricate tiled alleys and the fact that there is a Garden of Sulks hidden somewhere in Loulé. Hoping the garden is for getting rid of them rather than propagating them!

    1. The sky was so heavy that day, I was a bit full of sulks myself, Atreyee 🙂 Isn’t it just the best name for a garden? The situation is perfect too. It’s definitely a town with character.

    1. It was the day we went for the Carnival parade and just after 3pm, when the girls were busy shimmying, the skies opened! Everyone ran for shelter, and 5 mins later when it stopped, back onto the streets again. No dampened enthusiasm 🙂

    1. Oh, yes please! 🙂 Where are you off to and why do I keep disappearing? I do seek far and wide, Meg 🙂 This was intended as a Thursday’s Special on Mae Soberana for Paula, but it morphed 😦

  9. So much beauty in this post Jo! The white dome and bell tower against the grey sky, the gorgeous ceiling paintings, and the colorful street scenes that draw me right in! I love your world Jo! Thank you for sharing it with me.

  10. Really fascinating scenes, Jo. I love that ‘Onlooker’ sculpture, and also the ‘Beauty’ in the restaurant. The ‘faded grandeur’ is still really gorgeous. Might not look so interesting if it had a lick of paint. 🙂

    1. Wait till you get to Barcelona, Gilly!!! Won’t be long 🙂 Thanks so much. Loule really is an interesting place for a mooch and the chapel was entirely new to me.

  11. what a lovely place, Jo! and very interesting Easter tradition honoring Mary! the chapel altar is intricately beautiful! great captures, as always and thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. Marvellous tour as usual Jo. I think you have shown us the Arab market before, I recognised the domes, but nice to take us inside today. And the paintings in that chapel are astonishing. Such beautiful work. I am glad they were able to restore it. You make a visit to the Algarve look so attractive with every post.
    Jude xx

    1. It’s a great little town for ‘mooching’, Jude 🙂 I was going to do the chapel for a Thursday’s Special but it kind of morphed into a walk. I hope it’s not too disjointed. I was blown away with the chapel. Totally made my day because the dome was quite sparse and without atmosphere inside. Incidentally, have you been watching the Richard III stuff? I’m mildly fascinated! 🙂 Thanks for the kind words.

      1. Ha! I’ve just sat down for a while. My feet do get tired sometimes you know 🙂 I have to walk miles to find suitable benches!
        Thanks, Jude! Just gonna make a cuppa and I’ll be there. 🙂

  13. Wow Jo what an incredible place – the history was so interesting. Loved the views from the Dome and then the street-view. When I saw the steps leaving up to the Dome I wondered, oh-oh did Jo have to climb those? So glad to read that you drove! Have a lovely week.

  14. A lovely array of photos, Jo. I love cherubs in all poses and art forms, and the photo of the interior with the stained glass is quite startling for its contrast between old and new.

    1. I was really surprised to find the chapel, Sammy. I’d just been thinking how lacking in atmosphere the dome building was and suddenly I had it in spades! 🙂

  15. Loulé looks like yet another lovely Portuguese town, Jo, one to make you love Portugal even more than you already do. Thanks for taking us along on your Monday walk. I love the main street and Arabian market, the colorful buildings, and that beautiful chapel. Another reason for me to return to Portugal one of these days. 🙂

    1. Hiya Cathy! Sorry I didn’t make it to yours yesterday. It was a bit of a full-on day 🙂 Just back from walking so I’ll make a cuppa and join you soon. Couldn’t let you near that market! You’d need a sack for all the things you’d buy 🙂

      1. Don’t apologize, Jo. I don’t know how on earth you keep up with all the people who follow and comment on your blog!! Especially now in China, with the excruciatingly slow internet, I have trouble opening blogs (they’re blocked in China and I have to use a VPN), and find it very hard to read half of the blog posts I get in my inbox. 🙂

    1. Yes, I did. There is one shot of one of the market stalls in the gallery. It’s a myriad of fruit/veg/fish etc stalls with little shops and cafes all around the edges. A good rainy day place, I guess 🙂

  16. What can I say, you never cease to surprise me pleasantly with your descriptions and photos… I could almost imagine you heading the group of tourists and telling them the story..

  17. buongiorno amica Jo, è un buon inizio di settimana passeggiare con te ammirando i colori e le chiese del Portogallo, la popolazione è molto devota e molto sentito il culto per la Madonna, le foto nitide e chiare rendono esaustivo il racconto
    un bacio

  18. painting ceilings, verandas, mellow walls, smoked ham… and “streets below are made for strolling” – Loulé is interesting and beautiful Jo, thanks for the walk here… oh and love your little splash of humor about climbing all those steps to Nossa Senhora and how carrying the
    “saint must be quite an ordeal.” ha!

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