Standing out on the west coast of the Algarve is Aljezur Castle, an Arab military construction dating from the tenth century and consisting of extensive walls and two towers. A little farther south is the Cape St Vincent Fortress and, lastly, the Sagres Fortress, with its considerable historic and symbolic value. This area was systematically attacked by pirates and corsairs, such as the famous Francis Drake. On the south coast, the Beliche Fortress offered protection for fishermen and fishing grounds.
The Lagos City Walls and the Ponta da Bandeira Fortress, with its moat and drawbridge, embrace the city and the wide bay.
Silves Castle is one of the finest examples of Arab military architecture in Portugal, as is Paderne Castle (Albufeira), built in taipa (lath and plaster) and represented in the shields on the Portuguese flag.
In Portimão, the Fortress of Santa Catarina affords a magnificent view over the mouth of the River Arade. The Fort of São João do Arade in Ferragudo occupies a strategic site and was used for military purposes until the late 19th century, having been subsequently converted into a private residence.
Loulé Castle is also of Arab origin but was rebuilt after the city was taken from the Moors. Faro city walls surround the old town known as Vila Adentro and date back around two thousand years. Between the ninth and the eleventh centuries, the Arabs extended the construction, which includes octagonal towers built by the Byzantines.
In Tavira, the castle and city walls were built originally by the Phoenicians but were later rebuilt during the Arab period. Some sections still remain and offer magnificent views over the city and the River Gilão.
The picturesque village of Cacela Velha, overlooking the Ria Formosa, was home to people of various origins over the centuries, and its medieval fortress was rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake. The Old Castro Marim Castle, next to the River Guadiana, defended the border by means of a semi-circular wall. A monument that affords a splendid panoramic view, such as Alcoutim Castle from which you can see the village of Sanlucar, on the far bank of the Guadiana.