Monchique

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If you want to see something else, “only” sand & sea, the best comes to Monchique. Located in the Serra de Monchique Mountains, which separates the Algarve from the neighboring Alentejo region, this lushly landscaped landscape is called the “Garden of the Algarve”, with gentle hills, dense forests and flowing streams. Here bananas grow next to oranges and walnuts and it is green all year round.

This beautiful hinterland was overlooked for many years, as the focus was on the splendor and glamor of the resort on the coast. The scenery is truly breathtaking. On peaceful paths you can walk through small villages, past cork oaks, chestnut trees and pine trees to the granite rocks of the higher regions.

The rhythm of life in the small town of Monchique is quite different from that in the lively resorts on the coast. Here is the home of artisans who maintain centuries-old traditions, as well as agricultural workers taking care of their terrace-shaped vegetable beds or their citrus groves, while their cattle graze peacefully in the pastures. Their products are found in delicious regional cuisine. The gustling sausage and the smoked ham, the unique honey that comes from the fragrant wild flowers of the region and the strong liqueur Medronho, made from the fruits of the strawberry tree all contribute to the famous gastronomy of the area.

If you walk around you will notice that Monchique, although the Algarve belongs, does not seem to be a typical town of the region. It is a charming, hillside place with steep cobblestone streets and whitewashed houses. A perfect starting point to visit the springs and discover the mountains. The lively monthly market is ideal to enjoy the regional cuisine and to purchase here folding chairs, wickerwork, pottery and knitwear. The Feira dos Enchidos Tradicionais (traditional sausage fair) in March and the Feira do Presunto (smoked ham exhibition), which is usually held in July, are much-visited annual events presenting all Monchique products.

Notable sights of the city are, for example, the Igreja Matriz with its Manueline portal: the pillars are reminiscent of harbors ending in five knots above the entrance. Or the beautiful Franciscan convent of Nossa Senhora do Desterro (Monastery of the Virgin of Exile). It was built in the 17th century by order of Pêro da Silva, a Viceroy of India. His magnificent magnolia tree, which he supposedly brought from India, is considered to be the largest in Europe. There is also the Café Central, which is located in the upper part of the city. Countless travelers have thanked here on paper on the wall for good food and the hospitality.

About 6 km south of Monchique is the picturesque small village of Caldas de Monchique, a spa where the only natural springs in the Algarve are located. The spring water, which is 32 ° C hot, has attracted visitors since Roman times to use the healing properties of the water. Today a visit to the springs is recommended due to their therapeutic effect in respiratory, muscular and rheumatic diseases. Caldas is an enchanting retreat with elegant 19th century houses adjoining a shaded central square and a beautiful wooded park full of acacias, camellias and hundred-year-old trees. The steady sound of the rippling water that flows through creeks, under footbridges, and fountains, together with the light reflected from the foliage, creates an incredible atmosphere of peace and relaxation.

Located just outside Caldas de Monchique in Vale de Boi, you will find Parque da Mina (Mina Park), an 18th century farmhouse. The interior of the house, once the property of a wealthy native family, is designed in the style of the time. Here you can see the replica of a typical Medronho distillery, visit an old mine and enjoy more than a hundred different farms, Ponies, miniature horses, Vietnamese pigs, sheep and various bird species. A great trip for the whole family.

On a hike up to Fóia, the highest peaks in the Algarve with an altitude of 902 meters, you can see the southern coast, which stretches from Faro to Cape St. Vincent on clear days. In the north you can even look up to the Arrábida mountains, which is located about 40 km south of Lisbon.

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