The Church of São Francisco


Tavira, in the Eastern Algarve, has a reputation for restoring her many churches.  In the years I have been visiting I have marvelled at some of the changes wrought.  Still it is a thrill to turn a corner and find another, ripe for renovation.  If you look closely at the gallery below, you will see what I mean.  Exposed bare plaster scars the walls and alcoves.

Previously I had only been into the gardens, the church being always locked.  Just occasionally the gardens would be padlocked too, and I’d feel a sense of deprivation.  A quiet bench, the overgrown trees dappling patterns onto ruined walls, somehow they provide a warm and soothing space.

Still, it was a revelation to venture inside this church.  First appearances can be deceptive.  A curtain veiled the entrance to a side chapel.  Stepping through a little cautiously, I was utterly unprepared for the figures that greeted me there.


The Church of São Francisco has met with it’s share of disasters.  Since construction in 1272 it has suffered 2 earthquakes (in 1722 and 1755), a landslide in 1843 and a fire in 1881.  Perhaps it’s time it had a little luck.  Should you find yourself in Tavira and the church happens to be open, please deposit a few coins in the collection box.  It may help speed the recovery.

This might not be what Paula had in mind for Traces of the Past this week, but it’s an opportunity to share with you Thursday’s Special.


Six word Saturday


Hello, and how are you all?

The 'tents' return to Tavira

The ‘tents’ return to Tavira

What a fortnight, but what to select to show you what I’ve been up to?  In brief, of course.  More by luck than planning, the Mediterranean Diet Fair took place whilst I was in Tavira, which accounts for those little white tents and the variety of goodies within. It marked the end of an extremely hot Summer, in which the evenings were soothed by riverside entertainment.

The floodlit castle walls took on a magic of their own

The floodlit castle walls took on a magic of their own

And the churches opened their doors to show everyone the beauty inside

And the churches opened their doors to show everyone the beauty inside

Including the incomparable beauty of the Misericordia Church

Including the incomparable beauty of the Misericordia Church

With its wonderful azulejo panels

With its wonderful azulejo panels

The days were spent mostly wandering beaches.  I discovered a new obsession with buoys.  And I continued my exploration along the west coast of Portugal, up into the beautiful Alentejo.

Zambueira do Mar in the Alentejo

Zambueira do Mar in the Alentejo

Then there was the excitement that was the Medieval Fair at Castro Marim, with both castelo and mighty fortress an arena for combat, and an array of stalls and distractions.  Plus an evening of sand sculptures at FIESA.

Adding colour to Beethoven at FIESA

Adding colour to Beethoven at FIESA

I even managed to combine Morning Glory for Gilly with a hint of metal bench for Jude!  Yes, it was a fine holiday, and there are many tales to tell.  Gilly is going to the Algarve soon herself, and Jude always extends a warm welcome, so pop in and say ‘hi’ to them both.

A bench at Cacela Velha

A bench at Cacela Velha

I have to decide where to take you walking on Monday, and then I have a wedding in Poland, so I’ll miss Six word Saturday again next week.  I hope you’ve all had a great Summer, and if you’d like to share it with Cate I’m sure she’d be pleased.  See you soon!


Santa Maria do Castelo

Such a gentle expression

Such a gentle invitation

Tavira, in Portugal’s Algarve, has so many churches that I often walk by without a backward glance. Taking our customary first day stroll back in April, I spotted a sign outside the Church of Santa Maria do Castelo.  An invitation to a temporary exhibition of Sacred Art.  My curiosity piqued, nothing for it but to step inside.

Photos were not allowed within the exhibition space, so I contented myself with absorbing the atmosphere of the empty church.

Peaceful in prayer

Peaceful in her alcove

The Church of Santa Maria do Castelo is a 13th century building, rebuilt after the earthquake of 1755.  Believed to be on the site of a former mosque, as the name suggests, it is perched up on the hill beside the castle.  All that remains of the castle are a few walls and an evocative garden.

Within the church lies the tomb of the seven knights of Santiago who, according to legend, were killed defending the town from an ambush by the Moors.  The wood carving is exquisite.

The wood carving is  outstanding

The wood carving is outstanding

One of more than 30 churches in and around Tavira, this link will give you a brief introduction, if you are at all interested.  Until the end of August, 12 of the towns churches will be open during the week, so now is a good opportunity to take a look.

The azulejo panels are also incredibly beautiful

The azulejo panels are also incredibly beautiful

Some of the artwork is overly decorative and not to everyone’s taste but it is set in a serene and beautiful white space, and the ceilings are wonderful.

As I slipped out of the door I paused to capture an angelic wood carving, and incurred the wrath of the curator.  I had forgotten to take the flash off my camera.  Be warned!


I left feeling very guilty, but I hope that, if you’re in the neighbourhood, you’ll stop by.

Sunday Post : Solid

It needs to be quick thinking for Jakesprinter’s challenge this week, because, like the dragon, I’m up and gone tomorrow.  Solid is my subject matter, and as I hightailed it along the road to zumba class, I couldn’t stop the song, singing in my head.  You’ve guessed it!  “Solid as a rock”. (Ashford and Simpson, 1984)

Not even a song I particularly like, but it’s from my era, and it irresistibly draws me back to my Valuable post, completed for Jake’s challenge two weeks ago.  “Solid as a rock” describes how we would all like our partnerships to be.

This is my husband’s definition of an artistic shot?

Taken by him on the beach at Robin Hood’s Bay.

And this is mine. Spot the difference?

Where am I?  Madeira’s north coast, and that’s a pretty solid hunk of rock.

My brain makes strange connections sometimes, and as I marched on down the road, I found myself singing “The churches one foundation is Jesus Christ, Our Lord”.  Quietly, of course.  I’m not given to hymn singing, at full blast, in the street, though there are many worse things to do.

The foundation stone of many of our lives- can anything be more solid?

Igreja de Sao Joao Batista, Tomar

Monastery at Alcobaca

Convento do Christo, Tomar

Carmo Church, Tavira, at one of its many celebrations

Many thanks, as ever, to Jake, for giving us this opportunity to share our lives.  Please do join in the challenge.  Follow the link or click on the flying dragon for full details.  See you next time?

Six Word Saturday


Music in the Churches of Tavira

Sao Sebastiao Church, Tavira

The Tavira Academy of Music have been running “Music in the Churches” for 5 years now.  It’s a wonderful opportunity and also a huge pleasure to lend support to the community, for just 2 euros.  Last Saturday we were treated to a superb performance of Mozart, Chopin and some of his own work by pianist Luis Conceicao. (wearing an overcoat and woolly muffler, bless him- it was a little “fresh” in the church)

I would love to be there for this weeks classical guitar performance by Rui Mourinho- alas I’m back in England, but with some lovely memories.  If you’re nearby he’s at Sao Sebastiao Church 6-7pm this evening.  The venues vary week to week.

Why not join in with this Six Word Saturday challenge?  The details are all on