Recognized worldwide for its mild climate, the beauty of its beaches and the kindness of its people, the Algarve is a prime tourist destination that offers visitors the opportunity to discover its history.

Historical facts

Integrated into the Portuguese territory in the mid-thirteenth century, the Algarve was populated by Celtic and Iberian people around 1000 B.C. After the 4th century B.C. the region would be strongly influenced by the people of the Mediterranean basin, such as the Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians, who established trading stations on the Algarve coast, having also founded several settlements - a huge contribution to the development of this region.

Between the 2nd century B.C. and the 4th century A.D. the Algarve became part of the Roman Empire, belonging to the province of Lusitânia, which included most of the current Portuguese territory and a part of the Spanish territory. The Roman domain starts a socio-cultural and economic flourishing, thanks to the export of products such as olive oil and garum (a fish paste much appreciated at the time). During this period, the local population was under huge Romanization, adopting the Latin language and most of the religious, cultural and political practices of the Roman Empire.

The fall of the Roman Empire and the so-called barbarian invasions brought to the Algarve peoples like the Suevi and the Visigoths. The region was annexed to the Visigoth Kingdom in 571 A.D. Nevertheless, the Algarvian people kept the Christian religion and most of their habits.

With the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in the year 711, the Visigoth kingdom came to an end and was quickly replaced by the Caliphate of Cordova. For five centuries the Algarve was part of the so-called Gharb Al-Andaluz, the Arab name for much of the Iberian territory that was under the Muslim political administration. This was a period of development and prosperity, based on trade, fishing and on the export of agricultural products, during which most of the population was gradually converted to the Muslim religion, subsisting however small Christian and Jewish communities in cities such as Santa Maria Ibn Harun (Faro).

With the Christian Reconquista (specific Portuguese and Spanish conquest period) of the Iberian Peninsula in the 12th and 13th centuries, the Algarve became a region of the young kingdom of Portugal in 1249, but the Islamic culture continued to be an integral part of the local population. The region has come to play a key role in the Maritime Discoveries of the 15th century, contributing with human and material resources to the exploration expeditions in the African Coast and in the Atlantic islands, promoted by Infante D. Henrique (Henry, the Navigator), who lived in Lagos and Sagres.

In 1755 the Algarve was hit by a huge earthquake that, similar to what happened in Lisbon, caused massive ruins and destruction manly due to the following tsunami, devastating much of the population of the Algarvian coast. The recovery was mostly due to the patronage of the Bishop of the Algarve, D. Francisco Gomes de Avelar (1789-1816).

In November 1807 Portugal was the target of a Napoleonic invasion led by General Junot. A few weeks later, the French troops reached the Algarve and settled in Faro, where they were cordially welcomed by the governors. In Olhão, the population offered resistance to the invaders and in May 1808 they expelled the garrison that had been placed in this fishermen village.

After decades of economic stagnation, to which the civil war also contributed (1828-1834), the Algarve lived in the early 20th century a new period of economic growth, thanks to a strong focus on the trading of nuts and dry fruits and the development of cork and canning fish industries, which dominated the region’s economy until the tourist boom of the 1970s. Since then, the Algarve has internationally proven to be a prime European touristic destination, developing an industry that currently dominates the region's economy.

It is our goal to present to you the traditional Algarve in the 21st century through its gastronomy and culture, to show you the monuments and historical sites, ensuring that your visit to the region is full of good memories!

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