Olhão – Terra Cubista

Every tour guide will mention four things about Olhão da Restauração – the fishing industry, its fabulous weekday and Saturday markets, the easy access to the Ria Formosa and its cubes. It has taken me though four years to mention the latter!

Model of one of Olhao’s cubist buildings, with a copy of a Roberto Nobre sketch behind

It was the cubist buildings which brought many well known Portuguese artists, writers and photographers to Olhão in the first half of the last century. Built in the 18th century, probably inspired by Moroccan architecture, the old part of the city is a geometric delight. The gallery below is all the work of Roberto Nobre, a Portuguese film critic and painter.

These days the vast majority of tourists head west for the beaches and the golf. I though will remain in the east with Faro’s Cidade Velha, Tavira’s ‘roman bridge’ and roofs, and Olhão’s unique and wonderful 18th century cubes. For those who do make it here I imagine many would say something similar to the writer José Dias Sancho, whose description of Olhão’s cubes can be found in the gallery below .

All of these photographs and art can be currently found in Olhão’s museum. Thank you again to Portugal Up Close for bringing it to our attention. It isn’t a large exhibition but certainly well popping in if you are visiting Olhão.


Author: BeckyB

It had been a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, blogging, and best of all spending time with MrB, family, & friends. Sadly it no longer is. Suddenly and unexpectedly I have become a widow.

31 thoughts

  1. Wonderful buildings. Love the outdoor steps up to the roof terrace. Now if only I could afford something like one of those…

    1. Yes, and also I suspect because it is a very cheap and very quick way of building. The residents of this town were not allowed to build houses of brick/stone until late into the 18th century, and so when they finally broke away from Faro and could build I guess it was probably a bit of a building frenzy. I really must spend some more time translating and then reading the book we bought last year on the cubes.

  2. It does look very Moroccan, or certainly North African. Is the surrounding countryside green or sand coloured? Nice to be introduced to yet another aspect of the Algarve. I’m really beginning to fantasize about going there, or if not fantasize, then brood! But meantime, I’m planning a spring break in my favourite Sicily – Palermo to be exact.

    1. It is mostly green at this time of year, although in the last couple of weeks it has turned white because of the Almond Blossom!

  3. Love that very last shot and I wouldn’t mind a collection of those cubist paintings by Nobre. 🙂 🙂 Good time at Sao Bras? Loule was busier than I’ve ever seen it and the atmosphere was bouncing.

    1. Apparently they’re expecting 80,000 to 100,000 over the three days! Think there were about 800 at Sâo Bras. It waa great fun and very eclectic!

      PS think you’ll have to get in a queue for those paintings!

  4. It is quaint in places ,and a number of friends now own similar buildings and restoring them.
    However,the fact that the Olhao pong is not so much the sand/mud flats at low water ,but the sewage discharge by the ferry terminal and the consequental lack of blue flag beaches and the partial ban on shellfish gathering.
    Another no-no,is the uncontrolled parking of camper vans on the waters edge,close to the nesting sites,while the local mayor has a proposal to build a hotel within 100 meters of those same sites.
    For those of us who live here,they are constants,and should be equally noted.

    1. Oh I so agree with you on the pollution and also on the negative and ever encroaching camper vans. I despair that nothing is being done about this. You are right to highlight it.

  5. Hi Becky, Is it place reachable by public transportation? We are going to Portugal this year and I’m on the fence about driving instead of taking bus/train. Thanks!

    1. As Jo says it is. When we first came here we only used public transport – easy to use. The only reason we now have a car is because we love walking in the hills, and to do that you really do need your own transport.

    1. Thank you so much for popping by – if you ever make it to Lisbon, slightly easier to reach from east coast USA than the Algarve, then some of these paintings are in the wonderful Gulbenkian Museum.

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