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Silves Castle Algarve Portugal Monuments

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Algarve Tour Travel Guide, your Tourist Guide to Portugal, information and photos of National Monuments of Portugal, local history and architecture of the Algarve, near the municipality of Loulé, near Vilamoura, Quarteira, Quinta da Ombria, Querença, Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo and Faro

Algarve Tour Travel Guide, Tourist Guide to Portugal, information and photos of National Monuments, Historical sites and architecture of Portugal

Monuments of the Algarve, Portugal to visit the Municipality of Silves

Silves Castle

Silves Castle, is located in the city of Silves, Town and County of the same name, in the district of Faro, Algarve, Portugal.

Dominant over the mouth of the Arade river, garnishing this stretch of coast, constitutes the largest castle in the Algarve region and is regarded as the finest example of military architecture in the Islamic country.

During the Islamic period, Silves Castle, was the seat of the Muslim kingdom of Algarve.

Their defensive struture was made up by: Silves Castle (the Headquarters), Loulé Castle, Paderne Castle, Alvor Castle, Lagos Castle, Aljezur Castle, Alcoutim Old Castle, Tavira Castle, Albufeira Castle, Faro Castle, Salir Castle, Alcantarilha Castle, Belinho Castle, Martim Longo Castle, Alferce Castle, and other minor strongholds.

Silves Castle History

Background histories Castelo de Silves

The early human occupation of the hills of Silves back to prehistoric times, it is believed that in the first millennium BC, Phoenician sailors have entered the Arad river, and subsequently, we known the Romans was here and explored a copper deposit, as the archaeological remains.

Some authors claim that the Romans have been responsible for a first fortification between the fourth and fifth centuries, the first fortess constrution is also attributed to the Visigoths who succeeded them.

From the eighth century before the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, the new masters of the region began the fortification of Silves (As-Shilb, in that time), as confirmed by recent excavations.

Due to the geographical position, the town grew rapidly. Was around the eleventh century, when Silves became the head of Algarve, exceeding in importance Ossónoba, was host of numerous disputes between Muslim princes, been conquered by the poet-king Al-Mutamid (1052), becoming head of a taifa, and having a realevant Almedina (Silves Almedina).

Although, some classical period history, states that the forces of Ferdinand the Great conquered and sacked the town in 1060, the reality of this event has been questioned during the modern times.

Believed, that dates from this period, the general configuration of the walled perimeter, involving an area of about twelve Acres.

The crenellated wall, torn by three doors, was reinforced by square plan towers.

Internally, the town was defined by two main streets, forming two axes. Near the main gate (the Almedina Gate, also known as Porta de Loulé; Loulé was already a relevant city) roses the vast
balconies Palace, now gone, we know it fromn Al-Mutamid poetry.

The town is described in Xelb chronicles, of the end of the twelfth century, as a dynamic urban, commercial and cultural center of the Islamic world.

In the begining of the thirteenth century, the Almohads reform their defenses, led by the last Moorish king, Ibn al-Mahfur, which has made the guidelines that, with amendments, survived to this day.

Medieval Castle

At the time of the Christian reconquest of the Iberian peninsula, the Portuguese monarch, the King, El Rey Dom Sancho I (1185-1211) was also attracted by the prosperity of the enclave.

At the beginning of 1189, with the aid of a fleet of Danish and Frisian Crusaders, won preliminary, neighbor Alvor  Castle. In the summer of that year, with the aid of a new fleet of crusaders, now English and German, in an attempt from the second half of July, conquest Silves, after imposing a hard placement.

this episode came up the narrative of one of its participants, describing the violence of the siege, as well as the use of a variety of war machines, such as wooden towers, catapults and a "hedgehog" (wooden ball armed with iron spikes), which destroyed several sections of the towers and walls, leading to the surrender of the town on 2 September, the city was violently sacked in that day.

The placement and its castle remained in possession of Portugal until the counteroffensive Almohad that, under the command of Caliph Abu Yusuf Ya'qub al-Mansur, in 1191, culminated in the loss of all the Christian conquests in the far south of Tagus river, except the city of Evora.

In the year 1242, the Knights of Santiago, under the command of his Master, D. Paio Peres Correia,

brought the reconquest of Silves which, however, did not return permanently to the hands of Portugal. Was during the reign of Dom Afonso III (1248-1279) in 1253, when its bishop was restored.

The king granted the town its charter (1266), and also recover and strength its defenses.

After that, kings, Don Fernando (1367-1383) and Dom João I (1385-1433) promoted some repairs on these defenses.
It is believed that upgrading and strengthening occurred under the reign of King Manuel I (1495-1521), who granted a charter to the New Town (1504), since from this period the works of the Silves Cathedral and Orphanage.

Silves Castle (Castelo de Silves) Features

The fort occupies an area of about 12,000 square meters, is a typical example of Islamic military architecture, built with the use of mud, lined with sandstone, abundant material in the region and gives it a reddish hue.
The Islamic was composed by two large spaces:

* A fortress, the dominant share on higher ground, with turreted walls, covered walkway at the top by reinforced by eleven square plan towers, two of them was barbican towers, communicating both, throu a high pass in an arc,

* The medina, linked to the fortress through a main gate, protected by two powerful towers.

Its walls surround this village, being torn by three doors, of which only the Porta de Loulé reach today. This door has a double bridge, with round arches, protected by a watchtower.

It is believed that its structure would be below the elbow.

This tower is inside two rooms and annexes which for centuries has been installed at City Hall and, since 1983, the services of the Municipal Library.

It is accessed by an exterior staircase, built later, and the original two footbridges at the top. Next to it were found traces of the "Palace of balconies", during archaeological excavation works.

Four of the towers was modified when the reconstruction work promoted the fourteenth on fifteenth century, now have doors in the Gothic style, vaulted rooms and stones with the marks of the masons who did this works.

In the fortress there are also the tanks:

* The principal of monumental dimensions, with five dome supported by circular arches based on square columns.

According to tradition, its capacity was enough to supply the entire city for a whole year, in that time,

* The Cistern of Dogs, with about 70 meters deep. It is believed, that to did it, they use an old pit copper mining from Roman times.

From the earthquake of 1755 to the present

When the 1755 earthquake, the structure was severely damaged.
The castle is a National Monument by Decree published on 23 June 1910.

In the 1930s and 1940s, were promoted measures to consolidate and restore the castle, by the office of the Directorate General for National Buildings and Monuments (DGEMN), clearing up sections of walls and redoing a few towers, threatened with ruin.

Since 1984 archaeological excavations taking place inside the castle, coordinated by Teacher Dr. Rosa Varela Gomes (FCSH-UNL).

Currently, this is one of the largest and best preserved monuments in Portugal.

Nearby (40mn drive): Faro, Albufeira, Quinta do Lago, Vale do Garrão, Vilamoura, Loulé, Querença

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