It is still unknown for certain when the city of Loulé, Portugal got its beginnings. Some consider it to start at around 400 BC while others believe that it is Roman in origin. However what is known is that by 715 when the Moors invaded the Algarve, Loulé was already an important town.
This rather interesting town is located at about sixteen kilometers north of Faro and its main feature is the landmark church of Nossa Senhora da Piedare – interesting enough, as opposed to pretty much all other towns in the region, this church is a modern building with a dome shape that makes it look a bit like a space ship. A bit larger than many other Algarve resorts and towns, Loulé offers all the amenities that you may expect including many shops, banks, art galleries and many other, we’ll try to cover as many of them in this short Loulé guide.
Loulé is well-known in the region for hosting each a Saturday morning a gypsy market, located at the end of Rua da nossa Senhora da Piedade, in fact there are special trips that are available from many Algarve resort in order to get here, however you can also employ some Loulé transfer from Faro Airport and get here straight from the airport.
While the city is relatively big, when compared to most other Algarve destinations, the part of town that will offer interesting places to visit will be rather small, however it would be a good idea to get a map if you’re on your your first visit, the street layout makes it rather easy to turn down the wrong street and walk much further than you’d want.
The main church of the city, Igreja de S. Clemente can be found in a small town square, alongside a small but peaceful garden, the Garden of Sulks – Jardim dos Amuados – which is an ancient Arab cemetery.
From the back of the church you can follow Rua Martic where once you turn left you’ll arrive at the market building which is great to visit in the mornings as the produce selection is quite excellent, especially for those who are into fresh fruit and vegetables.
The Loulé castle can be found just a bit of distance down the road from the market. It was built sometime between the 13th and 14th centuries, and uses as foundation the old Roman settlement. The castle itself doesn’t exist per se, there are three remaining grey stone towers that are well preserved as well as the archway and the living quarters of the castle garrison.
Going past the castle you will eventually find the Convent of Espirito Santo which also houses the municipal art gallery.
These are the major historical sights that you may want to visit while in Loulé, however there are obviously other things to see and do while in the city. The winding network of cobbled streets and alleys is populated with a plethora of cafes and shops all of which want to attract your business.
Those who employ some Loulé car hire services, but also pedestrians, will notice that the main street, Jose da Costa Mealha Avenida is usually busy with cars as well as people going about their daily lives while on either side of the central gardens you can take a while to rest on benches under trees and kiosk which can help refresh you after walking the street’s length.
Loulé is also very well-known in the region for being the host of one of the biggest events in the region, definitely one of the biggest in Loulé. The Loulé Carnival takes place in the month of February and lasts for three days, the third one being Shrove Tuesday.
The carnival is a colorful affair made up of music, dancing and just a general partying atmosphere which is very reminiscent of Brazilian carnivals. Just as it is with the carnivals in Brazil people from all across the region to see the processions and join in with the party in the streets.
As we mentioned earlier this couldn’t be a total guide of the city, but hopefully it did offer you enough of a general idea about the place, so that you can decide whether or not you’ll want to visit there.