Even though most people are attracted to discover Algarve because of the amazing climate and the beautiful beaches, the truth is that Algarve has a lot more to offer than that just that.
Algarve, just like most regions in Portugal, has a long history, old customs, heritage buildings, and some living traditions that you can enjoy during the entire year.
Algarve Traditional houses
When you’re at Algarve, you will probably notice that the traditional Algarvian architecture is quite different from the rest of the country.
The fact is that there is a strong influence of the Moorish Heritage over many centuries which reflects on their traditional houses. Traditional houses in Algarve display very particular shapes and colors. A traditional house in Algarve usually displays some architectural features such as colorful moldings, picturesque chimneys, whitewashed walls and cool roof Terraces. This kind of construction might not appear much practical on a day to day life, but there’s something really special about this type of construction.
Portugal is famous for its gastronomy since it’s very rich and diverse.
When you’re in Algarve, you want to make sure that you try out some Algarve’s regional dishes. These dishes are reputable for a very rich flavor and, at the same time, simple preparation. Algarve’s dishes tend to be simple, but that simplicity leads to an unexpected rich flavor.
Most traditional dishes in Algarve include fish and shellfish. One of the most preferred dishes here in the Algarve continues to be the slowly griled Seafood over charcoal. However, you will also notice that there is some clever use of spices, aromatic herbs, and other ingredients.
Another famous dish in Algarve is “Ameijoas na Cataplana”.
These dishes show some of the Arabic influence on this part of the country. In terms of desserts, you will notice that most of them will use fruits that grow in The Algarve region like carob, oranges, figs, almonds, among others. They are usually simply blended with sugar and eggs. However, they seem to make the perfect combination.
In case you want to try out a traditional drink, you need to you need to check out the famous Medronho Brandy.
Algarve Customs and Traditions
Up until today, Algarve a lot of peculiar customs and traditions that you can easily see on every aspect of people’s lives.
Among these customs and traditions that show you the Algarve’s population and the region identity, you can easily notice the typical chimneys, the colorful folklore, and the glorious beaches.
One of the most important and traditional customs of this region is the manufacturer of wicker baskets as well as pottery.
The Dom Rodrigos, which is a traditional almond sweet, is also one of the most traditional sweets in Algarve. Besides, you still have the popular Saints celebrations and the groups of “Charolas” which are popular and traditional musicians groups.
And when we talk about peculiar or traditional games we can’t forget about the “Maios”. Maio means may in English and the celebration takes place on the 1st of May every year. On this day, you’ll be able to check the “maio” dolls and see some human-sized dolls made by clothes, which represent local personalities as well as their professions and events as a satire.
When visiting the Algarve, you can’t miss for sure the “corridinho” which is a local folklore as well as the famous Waltz, tango, slow music, and fox trot.
There’s no question that Portugal is a country with a rich culture. However, Algarve has some particularities. One of the things that make this region a bit different from other Portuguese regions is the fact that in Algarve, you will see many people living through their music and arts.
This is why we already mentioned the “Corridinho” which is a cheerful version of the folklore and that is actually a mix between mazurka and polka.
There’s no question that Algarve’s history is greatly influenced by the Arab occupation. This is still very noticeable in the architecture that is present in the entire region. However, the Arab influence is not present only in the architecture.
If you pay some attention when you’re in Algarve, you’ll notice many local names, buildings, and words that start with the letters “A L” just like “Algarve”. Words started by the letters “AL” are usually a part of the Arab heritage. The Arab occupation lasted for over 5 centuries (715 – 1249) and that’s why it left some strong heritage of the region and its culture, and that’s why Algarve architecture and some traditional costumes are so different than those that you can find in the rest of the country.
After many long battles, Algarve was finally reclaimed by the Christians. Every since 1249, the Portuguese monarchs were entitled king of Portugal and of the Algarve.
As you can see from all these previous points, Algarve is indeed a very special place. Few places can combine so much history, diversity and natural beauty as Algarve does. For those that never been to Algarve, it might seem the region simply has great beaches and an amazing weather. Others look at Algarve and see some of the best Golf courses in Europe. But, all in all, Algarve offers so much more than sun, beaches, and golf. If you’re really interested in knowing the real Algarve, you need to visit some of the cities, try their regional food, and enjoy their local culture and traditions. There’s so much to learn about Algarve’s history and so many ways to spend some good time there, that you might fall in love with the region.