Jo’s Monday walk : Enchanting Castro Marim


The period just after Christmas can be an enchanting time to be in the Algarve.  Especially if you are lucky and the skies are awash with blue.  Each of the towns and villages have their own Presepio de Natal or Nativity scene, and these vary from life size models to much simpler displays in a church, or a shop window.  I hope to share a few of these with you, but today we’re taking a short walk to find a rather special one.

You may remember Castro Marim as the scene of a remarkable Medieval Fair each August.  The town lies right at the border with Spain, looking out over the River Guadiana.  Alongside the river lie a series of centuries old salt pans.  A high quality salt is harvested here and, for the first time ever, 3 tons of it have formed the basis of the local Nativity scene.  It is a startling and beautiful sight.


The detail is extraordinary.  The trees are delicately crafted from wisps of plants, and every conceivable craft is depicted in amongst them.  Did you notice the pumpkin patch, and the birds protecting their eggs up on the rooftop? And the storks aloft upon the chimney?  You probably need to click on the gallery for a closer look.  If you like, you can throw a few coins, in appreciation.

The Presepio de Natal is very conveniently and easily signed from the main parking area in Castro Marim, and takes place on Rua 25 de Abril. Maybe a date for next year’s diary?  But as we are here in the centre of town I’m sure you’d like a look around.  Any potential kings among you?

Climb the steps to the Igreja Matriz and you have sweeping views of the town and its surrounds. You can peep through the grills of the church at the regal azulejo panel, and spy on the locals hanging out their washing.

A little meandering will bring you within sight of the gardens of Revelim de St. Antonio.  You cannot miss them because they are crowned by a windmill.  But first I have to warn you, there’s a bit of a climb.




I was delighted to find that the restaurant at the summit was open.  Can you imagine a nicer spot to linger over a coffee laced with cream?

It made the climbing a few steps entirely worthwhile.  I hope you enjoyed this gentle saunter. I’m saving the strenuous stuff for later.

walking logo

Thank you all for your patience.  I have tried to pop in on a few of you but, if I’ve missed you, please accept my apologies.  I’m travelling back to the UK today so my responses won’t be immediate but I’ll get there as soon as I can.  Meantime, pop that kettle on!  You have some fine walks to enjoy.


Nothing beats a canalside stroll in my book.  Thanks for being so patient, Anabel :

Glasgow canal walks

Jackie’s been out and about chasing a bit of magic :

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

And Woolly had a grand time ‘In Brugge’.  There are some beautiful images!


Jo’s-Monday-Walk 17-01-Brugge

It gets pretty cold in Bavaria but it’s so beautiful!  Thanks for sharing, Lady Lee :

Freezing in Freising 

Much warmer where lovely Becky was.  We managed to meet up again in the Algarve :

It maybe midwinter but it doesn’t feel like it

I thought I’d lost Susan, but fortunately she has kept right on walking :

Walking with Vultures

And Violet Sky’s been busy looking for bargains at Honest Ed’s :


What would a walk be without Drake for company?

Hjem til Aarhus

And the ‘other’ Susan has some lovely ideas for strolling in New York City :

Take a Stroll with Me Through Rockefeller Park

Isn’t it kind when people remember you when you’re far away?  Thanks, Elaine :

Glen Finglas Reservoir

Hope the new year is progressing well for you.  See you soon with more walks and reminiscences.



  1. I’ve been reading through your posts for this week, and love that I have set foot in this wonderful part of the world. It makes your great pictures and prose have even more life! I’m trying to come up with something for your next group walk, but have been too lazy so far to get it done. Maybe today….. 😉

    1. No worries! You’ll get there when you feel the need. I’m just appreciative you take the time to read and comment so kindly. Are you pondering further travels? 🙂

  2. well still need to catch up here – and wow – I am glad you climbed the steps.
    love the silhouettes and that windmill with those lines….
    but such a nice place to visit – thanks for sharing with us readers.

    1. It is a bit cold and miserable, Sam, and I’m loaded with cold 😦 Not all bad though because it was a wonderful holiday, and I’m watching Rafa (on the edge of my seat 🙂 ) Have a great weekend!

  3. Wow the salt nativity creations are amazing! I would have thought it was a winter wonderland if I hadn’t known better! The cafe at the top of your walk is certainly a lovely spot for a cream-laced coffee! Safe trip back to the Uk and have a lovely weekend xx

    1. It was wonderfully sheltered behind the glass screen in the cafe. A nice find! 🙂 It was 16-19C most days we were there but with a hint of cool breeze. Astoundingly, I’m told it’s snowing in the Algarve this morning!

  4. Oh my, I just adore the tiny village, it’s like fairyland! I did notice all the detail, the pumpkin patch is delightful, and the oven too, all the animals, oh I could go on! I would not be able to pull myself away from it…a magical time to visit the Algarve most defnintely, one I would never know about if not for you 🙂 I hope your journey home was a good one lovely lady 🙂 xxx

  5. How lovely Jo…all that salt ! I think I’d have linked setting up these Nativity scenes .. 🙂 You obviously had a great time once again out in the Algarve . Sunshine and blue skies certainly banish Winter mood dips for sure . A gentle saunter was just the thing needed 😉 Glorious photographs .. and yes it is .. enchanting Castries Marimba . Poppy x

      1. Happy Wednesday Jo and yes … all good in the sun thanks . A touch of unusual Caribbean cloud today and it’s rather reminding me of back home – barring the 20 degree difference in temperature of course ! Thinking ourselves very lucky in more ways than one .
        I bet you’re already making your Spring plans to return 🙂

  6. Oh, this post lifts my beleaguered heart! I’m hungry for outside and sunshine – although snow’s very pretty – and you give them to me. All that white and blue; the startling silhouettes against the white, with the shadows at the eaves; the amazing salt nativity; that beautifully squat windmill; the rocky hillside; the geometrics of the red, brown and white; and most especially the light and shadow and blue and roses. Thank you again. Some rather bedraggled hugs heading your way.

    1. Oh, sweetheart! It’s the least I can do to share a little happiness. Spring is just around the corner, Meg 🙂 I even bought some daffodils and irises in our local Aldi to cheer my hearth up now I’m back. Gentle hugs, darlin 🙂

  7. Ah the blue and white just lifts the heart! And the windmill is straight out of Don Quixote. (I know he was Spanish, but…) Nice to have you back Jo, hope it’s not too much of a shock!

    1. Well, it’s mince and Yorkshires for tea in an attempt to warm us up, Jude 🙂 To be fair, not so very cold- just that dismal grey I’d almost forgotten. We were bedazzled and incredibly lucky in the Algarve 🙂

  8. Thanks so much, Jo, for sharing your Portugal trip, I have thoroughly enjoyed your artful photos and adventurous walks. I just came form Woolly Muses who also featured some of your trip. I loved your photos, and here I especially enjoyed the windmills.

    1. Hello Jet! 🙂 Yes, Woolly’s been having fun with me for the last few weeks, bless him. We had such a lovely trip and I came back full of the joys of Spring. Bought some irises and daffs for the hearth just to keep me in the right mood.

    1. It was probably the highlight of our holiday, Paula, but then, there were many! 🙂 I hope it’s warmed up a little for you? We landed to thick fog and a raft of James problems that are giving us something to think about. 🙂 🙂 Sending warm hugs your way!

  9. The colors jump off the screen, so I can only imagine how exhilarating the beauty of this special place. What a treasure, Jo. The life-size nativity scenes are lovely. This would be a “walk” I’d certainly enjoy.

  10. What surprises me , in Europe , is how every country looks so different from each other….

    Portugal , for instance , next to both Spain and Italy , (as far as kms are concerned ), is a world apart from them …. ; whenever I see your photos of Algarve , I wish I were there to dream of peace……

    Such a great post, Jo!

    1. Yes it is strange, and rather wonderful, how the countries preserve their identities, Anna. We have been so lucky to find our own little patch of heaven. 🙂 🙂 Thank you so much!

  11. Amazing attention to detail in the ” presepio de natal” , it must have been lovely to be in the Algarve and get some blue skies? We are off to Australia in early February since I can’t cope with the winter here any longer.

    1. Back to reality with a bump when we landed in the fog at Leeds, Gilda! 😦 Lovely to have somewhere warm to escape to, though the Algarve is still cool by Australian standards. 🙂 I shall be watching some of the Australian Open tennis to cheer me up… till the next trip 🙂

  12. Delightful as usual, and such superb photos. You cheer a lot of people up with your Monday walks with your camera. I’ve been absent lately due to family matters, Christmas and New Year visitors, and the fact that holding a camera in this weather made my fingers freeze!. However, I;m off to Khao Lak next week (where the tsunami hit Thailand very badly), for some warmth, sand and sea, so my first walks will be along the beach I think.

    1. Sounds idyllic, Maris. 🙂 Christmas can be a strain at times. I try to give as much warmth and cheer on here as I can. Nobody needs dreary, do they? Have a fantastic break and I’ll look forward to some strolls with you.

  13. A huge amount of work must go into creating these nativities and they’re so lovely. I like the pumpkins as well, but the orange trees are best of all.
    There’s a handsome but rather strange looking man hiding behind a bush, was he stalking you? 🙂
    Good to have you back, even if you didn’t really disappear honey xxx

    1. Can’t seem to go anywhere but he turns up, Gilly! 🙂 We saw some really lovely nativities this year.
      Monster of a day coming back. We met James in a suburb of Leeds to discuss current work situation, then drove home in a foggy rush hour. Just put the kettle on and collapsed. 🙂 🙂 You ok?

      1. I’m good ta, off out in a minute to a tiny theatre where two of my writing group friends are having their short plays performed. Should be interesting because one of them has a character that I always read in the group, so I’ll see how an actor does it! Hope the meet up with James was helpful?
        Gotta go, catch you soon love!

  14. That Nativity scene is impressive and unique, Jo! Salt is the perfect choice to represent snow. I love your blue Portuguese skies and the views from the top. Can’t wait to find out what else you did on your visit south.

  15. I’ve just found you through Anabel’s blog – what fantastic photos. A great view from outside the restaurant, and that salt nativity scene is beautiful – the detail is amazing 🙂

  16. Thanks for sharing this! It is such a work of art and labour of love. So clever to use salt to create snow. The details are extraordinary. I love the woodfire oven and the bread on the side. The tile work in Portugal, always extraordinary.

  17. So much magic here, Jo. The nativity scene in salt is exquisite. It makes me think how very entranced my four-year old self would have been to see such a thing. Even my old cynical self is delighted. I can see why you love the Algarve. The light. That sky! Here in Shropshire we have DULL, followed by a whole week of DULL. Thanks for the sunlight, lovely you.

    1. We landed in thick fog, and met our son who currently has a work dilemma, Tish, then headed home in rush hour traffic. It’s ‘sort of’ nice to be back. 🙂 Lots of nice things to share, and tons of blue sky coming your way.

  18. Welcome back Monday walks! And with a stunner. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting you till next week – but luckily I am ready for you! Just putting the finishing touches to another stroll now. Hope you have had a safe journey.

    1. I wasn’t sure if I’d manage a walk for today, Anabel, but as this is Christmas related I wanted to get it up swiftly. We did have a couple of laidback evenings with the laptop, so here I am. Just! 🙂 🙂

  19. Oh wow, Jo. Did I read that correctly, that the nativity scene is made up of salt? That is incredible, natural salt produced there just like that. That part of Castro Marim is really special and lucky you got to see and snap these up-close beautiful shots. Cream laced with coffee sounds delicious. I would have that if I drank coffee, but I’d have a chocolate laced with cream, thank you 🙂

  20. What a lovely, gentle saunter, Jo! The silhouette of the 3 kings is great, and the salt nativity scene stunning in its detail! Have a good journey home, and prepare yourself for a cold, wet England!

  21. Jo, thank you for being gentle with us! 😀 Ah…to saunter in some warmth instead of the brisk walks in the cold. The nativity scenes in the salt are hauntingly beautiful, captivating, thank you for sharing and I’ve enjoyed looking through them all. So well laid out and fantastic detail. I also like the silhouette nativity outline. Happy 2017!😀♥️

    1. Hello, Annika 🙂 I think you can tell we had a lovely time, but it’s back to fog and rain for a little while. Not so cold as we thought but I have my memories to keep me warm for now. 🙂

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