There is a lot to see in Silves. The old bridge Ponte Velha over the river Arade offers a picturesque panoramic view of the river and the castle. The bridge, which in these days is only accessible to pedestrians, is also known as Roman Bridge, although it is most likely of medieval origin. It is one of the landmarks of Silves and an ideal place to have a photograph taken to remind you of this historic city when you return home.
We recommend to leave your car in the parking area by the edge of the river and to discover the city on foot. In the heat of the summer the steep walk up to the castle can be strenuous, although well worth the effort. The Archaeological Museum in the Municipal Square displays a wide variety of artefacts related to the complex and diverse history of this ancient city and its surroundings. The Cathedral of Silves with its large churchyard was built on the foundations of an old mosque. This historic building is well worth seeing. Until 1577 Silves was the seat of the Bishop of the Algarve.
The castle of Silves (Castelo de Silves) was built between the 9th and 12th centuries. Not only is it an iconic monument in the city but also one of the most important buildings dating from the Arab period of the Algarve. Its ramparts and battlements were built with red sandstone originating from Silves. The castle was classified as a National Monument in 1910.
The massive castle is the largest and best preserved monument of its kind in the Algarve. Its crenellated walls with a length of 400 meters convey an idea of the resilience, power and invincibility of this fortress. The view of the interior of the castle, which occupies an area of about 12 000 m2 demonstrates its enormous size.
In the citadel two water tanks (cisternas) stand out: the main one is rectangular and of colossal dimensions, with a dome, and once guaranteed the water supply of both the castle and the city. However, the second tank, known as the Cisterna dos Cães has a depth of more than 60 metres and is thought to have been an old well.
From the walls there is a very impressive view over the elevated part of the city, the cathedral, lower Silves by the edge of the River Arade and the surrounding green hills.