Algarvian day trips Festivals

In the heart of the Barrocal

As you read this I hopefully will either be on my way to or in Loulé for the Festa da Mãe Soberana‘.  DSCN0047The only reason I say hopefully is that our visitors are leaving this afternoon, so our visit all depends on their timings and our ability to find somewhere to park in Loulé as we’ll be arriving in the midst of the procession which involves thousands of people!

The Feast of the Sovereign Mother, the patron saint of Loulé, first began two weeks ago when sheDSCN0071was carried from her sanctuary to the Church of São Francisco. This morning she begins her return journey, and this afternoon she complete her journey with a procession through Loulé’s main streets of the city before ascending to her Sanctuary in Nossa Senhora da Piedade. This is one of the important religious festivals in the Algarve, so I do hope we make it. I’ll keep you posted on what happens, in the meanwhile I thought you might like to enjoy my photographs from previous visits.

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Modern architecture hidden down an alley way

Thanks again to Restless Jo for her recommendation in her Monday walks, you inspired us to visit.

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Loulé is in the heart of the Barrocal, an area noted for its traditional handicrafts, castles, fauna, flora and wonderful views.  If you have yet to stray from the Algarve beaches then the Barrocal region may surprise you.  It is very rural and quite beautiful.

Roundabout in the centre of Loulé
Roundabout in the centre of Loulé
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Inside the market

Loulé itself is a flourishing market town, with lots of lovely shops, cafes, fabulous covered market, castle and Churches. The market was built in the 19th century and has a Moorish feel to it. It is a beautiful building, and whilst not as large as Olhão’s daily markets, it does have wonderful regional produce on sale including cakes, peri peri and medronho.

Selling her goods at Loulé market
Selling her goods at Loulé market

I was delighted to find hidden way in a cafe below modern flats behind the castle locally made almond sweets.  They were divine, and locals obviously think so too as quite a few people popped in whilst we were there to buy a few.

Want to find the sweets too . .well if you stand where I was when I took this photo, and then turn around and head left down the hill to the cafe.
Want to find the sweets too . .well if you stand where I was when I took this photo, and then turn around and head left down the hill to the cafe.

Loulé is lovely place to stroll, and you can easily spend a couple of hours just wandering around the town, or sitting in one of the many cafes.  There is a Brazilian coffee house which is well worth going into simply for the decor.

Remains of a Convent, there were quite a few
Remains of a Convent, there were quite a few
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Can you spot the swifts on the far wall?
A rare rainy day!
A rare rainy day!

If you are feeling particularly energetic though you can walk from DSCN0043the town up to incredible Nossa Senhora da Piedade.  For those who use the motorway you have probably been wondering what it was everytime you drive past Loulé.  If like us you rarely use the motorway and are staying in the east, then the drama of this building will be a surprise!

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DSCN0063Don’t worry if you are not feeling energetic as you can like us and also Jo drive up as there is a spacious car park at the top. The church is a must visit if in Loulé – the modern church for its architecture and the restored chapel for its incredible art.  You’ll probably like the views too!

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Looking back towards the town

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2 comments on “In the heart of the Barrocal

  1. Hi . . . ooh intriguing, hope not a serious misadventure. Unfortunately we didn’t, you will laugh when you read the tale why!

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  2. I’m just back this evening, Becky, and hoping you made it to the procession! 🙂 I had a great time, aside from a misadventure with your Ludo walk (story for another day 🙂 ) Many thanks for the link. I’ll be back to catch up when I can.

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