The beauty of the natural setting further enhances the megalithic monuments, which can be admired in many places across the Algarve.
The Padrão menhir in Raposeira, Vila do Bispo, is part of one of the most significant concentrations of megalithic monuments in the Algarve.
In the uplands of the Serra do Caldeirão, the Cerro das Pedras dolmen and the Beringel dolmens near Salir, bear witness to the area’s prehistoric past. The megalithic tombs at Alcalar, in Portimão, are a national monument and offer a cultural programme. At the hamlet of Santa Rita (Cacela), you can visit a tomb that is around 4,500 years old.
In places next to the sea, or in the fertile lands of the barrocal, you will find Roman ruins in the Algarve that reflect a lifestyle which valued the landscape. The ruins of the Abicada villa are located in the singular environment of the Ria de Alvor. The house (domus) had a gallery with a view of the estuary and the sea, and beautiful, coloured mosaics lined the floors.
Although lacking the size and decorative pomp of the Roman ruins of Milreu, in Estoi, with its decorated spa and private temple, the villas in Cacela, Boca do Rio (Vila do Bispo), Quinta do Marim (Olhão) and Montinho das Laranjeiras (Alcoutim), nevertheless afford attractive views. At the Cerro da Vila site in cosmopolitan Vilamoura, you can visit the ruins of a Roman villa that had a spa and fish-salting tanks.
At Ponta da Atalaia in Aljezur, the Arab ruins of Ribat da Arrifana, a convent-fortress that welcomed pilgrims, are unique in Portugal.
The Arab presence in the Algarve lasted 500 years and left profound cultural, economic and social legacies.
One of the most emblematic objects from the Islamic period is the “Tavira Vase” (11th century). Profusely decorated with highly symbolic human and animal figures, this is an iconic example of the region’s archaeology and is on display at the municipal museum in Tavira.