The Algarve is not just about beaches: its also cultural and historical heritage and the religious tourism is worth a visit. All About Portugal made a tour of the 10 most beautiful churches in the Algarve, from Lagos to Vila Real de Santo António. Stage of countless wars over the centuries, the Algarve region has witnessed the passage of different peoples, with churches being an essential part of this legacy, as they combine religion and faith with art, architecture and culture.
You can follow the route through the most beautiful temples in the Algarve during the bathing season (why not combine the best of both worlds?) or visit it during the low season and enjoy this beautiful region avoiding the crowds. In either case, you will have the freshest fish and seafood at your disposal to make you company through the best that religious tourism has to offer.
São Sebastião Church – Lagos
The São Sebastião Church is a Renaissance temple built in the 14th and 16th centuries on an old chapel. Inside, there are valuable images, such as Nossa Senhora da Glória and, outside, the small Chapel of the Bones. Built on a hill, it is a privileged viewpoint over the beautiful city of Lagos and the sea.
Divino Salvador Church / Mother Church of Alvor
In the historic center of Alvor, we find the Divino Salvador Church, or the Main Church of Alvor, one of the must-see of religious tourism in the Algarve. The current building, which replaced the medieval building, was built in the early 16th century by D. Manuel. Inside, there are several interesting details, such as the rococo tile panel and the Manueline portal.
Colégio dos Jesuítas Church - Portimão
The Colégio dos Jesuítas building, also known as Colégio de São Sizenando or Colégio de São Francisco Xavier, is one of the most impressive buildings in Portimão. It was built in 1660, but it only opened for worship in 1707. Inside the church, the Baroque altarpieces and the mausoleum of Diogo Gonçalves, founder of the church, stand out.
The Silves Cathedral, whose foundation will date from the 13th century, with several reconstructions over the centuries, is considered the most notable temple of Gothic architecture in the Algarve. Like most of the buildings in Silves, it was built in red sandstone, the Grés de Silves, a feature that makes the city's built heritage unique and noteworthy.
São Lourenço de Almancil Church
Built in the first half of the 18th century, in the Baroque style, the São Lourenço de Almancil Church has a sober exterior, but a rich artistic interior. It has an impressive dome covered with figurative tiles and a set of 18th century tiles with scenes from the life of São Lourenço, by Policarpo de Oliveira Bernardes.
Nossa Senhora do Carmo Church and Chapel of Bones - Faro
We could not talk about religious tourism in the Algarve without mentioning the Nossa Senhora do Carmo Church, also known as the Third Order Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte do Carmo, and the Chapel of the Bones, in Faro. It was inaugurated in 1719, and then the Chapel of the Bones was built in 1816, with bones that are said to be from Carmelite monks.
The Faro Cathedral shows several influences: Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque, due to successive reconstructions after an attack by English troops and two earthquakes. Inside, the tiles and carvings stand out, constituting one of the most valuable pieces of art from the 17th and 18th centuries in the Algarve.
Tavira Misericórdia Church
Built in the 16th century, the Tavira Misericórdia Church is considered one of the best examples of the Renaissance in the Algarve, with emphasis on the magnificent carved portal in the form of an arch. Inside, be sure to pay attention to the chancel's altarpiece, the tiles that cover the walls of the church and the various images from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Santa Maria do Castelo Church - Tavira
Still in Tavira, the Santa Maria do Castelo Church, built in the second half of the 13th century on the site of a mosque, deserves a closer look. It was rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake, but kept the Gothic structure and portal. Be sure to visit the sacred art exhibition, with images and paintings dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries.
Main Church of Nossa Senhora da Encarnação - Vila Real de Santo António
Built in the 18th century as part of the Pombaline project to rebuild Vila Real de Santo António, the Main Church of Nossa Senhora da Encarnação stands out in the main square of the village. Inside, the Rococo-style altarpieces and a set of stained glass windows by the painter Joaquim Rebocho stand out. So we ended our journey through religious tourism in the Algarve, in a tour full of religion and faith.