Art and Architecture

One of the grandest houses in Tavira

is open to the public for just a few euros, well worth visiting.

It has been a while since I took you to Tavira, and even longer since I submitted an entry to Norm’s Thursday Doors. So I thought quite appropriate to combine the two together and take you somewhere quite special – Palácio da Galeria.  And as it is Thursday Doors I’ll begin with the door that caught my eye in this 16th century palace. It is upstairs, and was once the entrance to a small chapel inside the palace. The tiles around the door are 17th century azulejos and are quite beautiful. I assume the chapel no longer exists as we didn’t find it albeit I did stumble across a rather lovely ceiling in one of the smaller rooms.

The palace is located within the town walls, and is known for it rather lovely loggia. In fact it was the loggia that led to the townsfolk nicknaming this home Casas da Galeria, the houses of the gallery. The loggia, or ‘galeria’, is on the first floor and as all loggais are it has sides open to the outside but is only accessible from the inside. It was commissioned by the family of Aragão de Sousa who wanted panoramic views over the town, and they certainly achieved that. It would have been a delightful spot to sit.

By the 18th century the building was occupied by Dr João Leal da Gama Ataíde, a judge who on his return to his home town of Tavira commissioned renown Algarvian architect Diogo Tavares de Ataíde to remodel his home in a style and splendour which reflected the judge’s wealth and status. I think he succeeded!

If I have understood all that I have read today about the building it was following his remodelling work that the locals began calling it Palácio da Galeria rather than Casas da Galeria. It certainly feels like a palace upstairs with its many rooms and views of the town and castle. Following the death of the judge the building lay empty for many years until 1863 when the Tavira Council took ownership. And as often happens with council buildings it was poorly maintained and experienced a multitude of uses from law court to school to council office. By the late 1990s it was in a state of disrepair, but fortunately the council finally realised what they had and commissioned a restoration programme.

Palácio da Galeria is now Tavira’s main museum space. There don’t seem to be any permanent exhibitions albeit the ‘Mediterranean Diet’ one is still here after 3 years and they have some excellent free guide books to take away. On the day we visited there was a temporary exhibit sharing the work of Fernando Ricardo, a Portuguese photojournalist. His photographs are superb . . . . . and because of the simplicity of the exhibition you are able to fully appreciate for yourself how every hipped roof – known as Telhados de Quatro Águas – equates to one room. You can also see the Phoenician wells underneath the building itself. So we definitely recommend paying the few euros to pop in and explore.

27 comments on “One of the grandest houses in Tavira

  1. Pingback: Portugal’s white gold – It caught my eye in Portugal

  2. Thank goodness this beautiful building was restored! I hope lack of money doesn’t result in it degenerating again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beauty! I’m glad they decided to restore it. Thanks for sharing and welcome back.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that clock tower and those vaulted ceilings are pretty cool too. Nice shots 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for this post Becky, when I came across the palace it was closed while work was being carried out. I’d have loved to see inside, it’s so beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s a while since we’ve been inside but it’s a lovely building. Thanks for sharing the history. Back very soon? X

    Liked by 1 person

  7. How lovely! So which town do you prefer between Tavira and Olhao? Is one better than the other for getting around using public transport?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Like me Becky is biased. For transport there’s not a huge difference. Both have train and bus service xx

      Liked by 2 people

    • Tavira wins for me, it’s smaller, less touristy and really relaxing – sorry Becky!

      Liked by 2 people

      • That’s ok. I totally agree Tavira is smaller and really relaxing. Such a pretty town….but in winter it is much much more touristy than Olhão as most tourists only visit Olhão for the Saturday market and ferries to the beaches. So at this time of year it feels like the working town it is 😊


    • We prefer Olhão but most of our visitors prefer Tavira! And of course our guru – Jo – also prefers Tavira 😊

      Both have a railway station in fact Tavira has two. They are up a hill in Tavira whereas Olhão is on the level.

      Both have bus stations but Tavira’s is more like a bus station as Olhão (like the town itself) is a bit ramshackle and hidden away.


  8. Stunning photos. On my To Visit list.

    Liked by 1 person

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