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A day trip to Tavira

A return to Faro day three


View A return to Faro on ToonSarah's travel map.

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Castle and church, Tavira

Another sunny day and with less wind than yesterday. We had breakfast in the same cafe as yesterday and then headed to the station to catch the 9.55 train to Tavira. The plan had been to meet up for coffee with my blogging friend Jo, but she WhatsApped me to say she was still testing positive after a bout of Covid. So that plan was scuppered but we still wanted to see Tavira, so off we went!

The train arrived a bit after 10.30. Tavira’s main station is a little way out of the old centre. But the walk from it is a delight if like me you enjoy photographing doors, windows and other architectural details.

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Arriving in the Praça da República we found it lined with a number of cafés, so we chose one and settled down to enjoy a morning coffee and a spell of people watching.

The Ponte Romana

After our coffees we strolled out on to the Ponte Romana where we’d hoped to meet Jo. The bridge, spanning the river Gilão, has in fact little to do with the Romans. The first bridge here was built by the Moors in the 12th century and later, in the Middle Ages, houses were built on it. That bridge collapsed in 1655 (the weight of the houses, I wonder?) and was rebuilt in its present form in 1667. However some sources I’ve consulted talk of an earlier Roman bridge on this site, part of the road linking Faro to Castro Marim on what is today the border with Spain.

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Views from the bridge towards the far bank and up towards the castle

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Sign by the bridge, and the shadow of its railings

Whatever its past history, today the bridge affords lovely views of the town. The sun was shining, a busker was playing … but the yellow and blue ribbons tied to the bridge were a sobering reminder that all was not so well in other parts of Europe.

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Ribbons for Ukraine

Igreja da Misericórdia

Doubling back from the bridge we started to climb the steps to the castle. On the way up we stopped off to visit the Church of the Misericordia which was really worth seeing. It was built between 1541 and 1551 and is considered to be one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture in the Algarve region.

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The Igreja da Misericórdia

I was pleased I was allowed to take photos inside as the interior has some stunning azulejos which depict the fourteen Works of Mercy that inspired the founding of the sisterhood, plus scenes from the life of Christ. These date from the 18th century as do the altar and retablo which are even more striking.

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In the Igreja da Misericórdia

We climbed the narrow spiral steps of the bell tower, finding the view interesting but not spectacular. And we visited a very good temporary exhibition of photography which seemed to have no links to the church that we could fathom!

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The view from the bell tower, Igreja da Misericórdia

Continuing up the hill we came to the camera obscura in an old water tower. The garden at the foot of the tower had some attractive plants and another good photo exhibition, this time macro insect photography. I was pleased to find that there was a lift to the top of the tower, and enjoyed the 'tour' of the town given by our guide as he described the scenes displayed on the camera's disc.

The castle gardens

From the tower we went to the ruined castle. Its small garden was beautifully scented and full of colourful poppies. We climbed to the ramparts for views down to the town (the photo at the top of the page was taken there).

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In the castle gardens

By now it was nearly lunchtime so we headed back down the hill and found a restaurant with open air seating on the far side of the river. We had an excellent meal here - tuna steak sandwich for Chris, goats cheese on toast with honey and almonds for me, along with a small side salad. And we enjoyed the setting, although the wind off the river was a bit sharp in the shade.

Afternoon in Tavira

After lunch we strolled around some of the streets on that far side of the river before crossing back to do the same on ‘our’ side. Our footsteps led us along to the old fish market, now converted for use by shops and bars. In the nearby side streets we discovered an old unrestored but photogenic church, and some attractive doors and azulejos. I became somewhat obsessed with photographing the latter, so only include a few here, along with a selection of other photos I took that afternoon.

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A few azulejos

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An unrestored church

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Flowers and other details

As the afternoon wore on we started to walk back up the hill to the station. There was time to photograph the moving military memorial outside the station before our train left. Outside the station entrance stands a life-size statue of a soldier outside the station. He holds his kit bag in his right hand while his left is raised in farewell. Across the road stands his wife or girlfriend waving back. She wears a simple summer dress; it must be a nice day. But windy; look at the way the soldier’s tie is whipped up as it catches a breeze.

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Memorial at Tavira station

A nearby plaque, in Portuguese, explains that this is (unsurprisingly) a military memorial. The sculpture was the work of the Belgian sculptor Francis Tondeur and was placed here in January 2001. The soldier’s eyes have since unfortunately been disfigured, vandalised; but I still found it a moving memorial to the separations caused by war. And all the more poignant given the number of families wrenched apart by the current fighting in Ukraine.

Back in Faro

We'd planned to spend the evening in the more modern streets closer to the apartment. But we found ourselves drawn back to the old Town, driven in part by the music played enthusiastically but not especially well by a large band of young performers in the gardens by the bandstand.

After an abortive attempt to have a drink at one bar, where we were kept waiting for service for so long that we gave up, we settled on the terrace of the Cidade Velha restaurant next the cathedral, scene of my cappuccino mishap a couple of days ago. Thankfully nothing similar occurred this time around and we enjoyed our drinks sitting in the last of the day's sunshine. Afterwards we went inside to eat, as the air soon cooled off, and enjoyed another excellent meal. My traditionally cooked squid was melt in the mouth tender!

The stroll back to the apartment gave us an opportunity for a bit of night photography on the old town's picturesque streets.

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In Faro's old town at night

Posted by ToonSarah 15:27 Archived in Portugal Tagged bridges churches flowers monument history garden details portugal faro tavira Comments (12)

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