New look for the Silves castle

Silves Castle is reopening following restoration work worth 1.5 million euros. The building work that began in 2003 involved the restoration and consolidation of the archaeological ruins, the conservation of the cistern, repair of the towers, reconstruction of the paving and the construction of infrastructure for water, electricity and drains. In addition to landscaping and external access routes, internal wooden walkways were built to enable visitors to walk around the archaeological ruins of the two Islamic palaces, and a garden with water circulation systems.

The restoration was guided by the principle of reversibility which makes it easy to return to the original state.

Located on the highest point of the hill where the city stands, the fortification – a typical example of Islamic military architecture –occupies an area of 12,000 square metres, has 11 rectangular towers (two of which are of the albarrã type) and is built of taipa (mud mixed with lime and stones) clad in sandstone, a material abundant in the Silves region which gives it its reddish colour.

Islamic Legacy

Owing to numerous earthquakes, Silves castle underwent restoration work in 1940, but it retained the medieval perimeter of its walls. The fortification includes a keep, with access through a double gate with an atrium, flanked by two towers.

In the northern part of the walls can be found the "Porta da Traição" (Gate of Betrayal), a second entrance common in this type of Islamic fortification. On the inside, there is also the "Aljibe", a rectangular cistern which supplied water to the city and, in the south, the "Cisterna dos Cães" (Cistern of the Dogs) which was an old copper mineshaft from the Roman era, which is about 70 metres deep.

During the building work, structures of a two-storey residential building from the Almohad period (13th century) were discovered, and an interior garden and a bath complex.

The first concerts are scheduled for 24th and 25th July with the Orquestra do Algarve.

The reopening of the castle was attended by the President of the Republic, Cavaco Silva, on Friday.

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