Faro is popular with tourists across the world thanks to its brilliant beaches and close proximity to several natural parks and enchanting towns. There is plenty to see and do no matter what you’re interested in. If you’re a history fan, you might be interested to know that Faro also has a rich past. Take a look below to find out some quick historic facts about Faro and the Algarve.
The history of Faro – Ossonoba
The area that is now Faro was once known as Ossonoba, originally attracting settlers and traders since the Paleolithic era thanks to its location near the Ria Formosa lagoon (now a popular nature reserve). Both the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians are said to have occupied Ossonoba, helping to create trade routes across the area, among other initiatives.
Moorish history and architecture
Ossonoba was taken over by the Moors in the eighth century, although the area was allowed to retain its status as the main port town in the south-west of the Iberian peninsula. In the 500 years of Moorish rule, the city also became the capital of the kingdom in the ninth century. It was during this time that the city was given its current name, Faro. Eventually, Faro was taken over by the Christians, as were many other areas across the Iberian peninsula.
Under the new Christian rulership, Faro was established as the capital of the Algarve region by King Afonso III of Portugal. The city of Faro became a centre of culture and learning as a result. In fact, some of the earliest printed books in Portugal were created in the city by a Jewish printer in the 15th century.
What came next?
In 1596, Faro was plundered by the Earl of Essex and his men, who looted the library of the Bishop of the Algarve. Much of the city was also plundered and was later burned to the ground. These books and other texts are currently part of the Bodleian library at the University of Oxford. Faro suffered more disaster in 1722 when it was ravaged by an earthquake, and again in 1755.
Parts of the historic area of Faro, particularly the city centre, survived the disaster. This, of course, means that much of the area that surrounds it was built after 1755. In 1834, the city had recovered and once again became the capital of the Algarve.
If you are interested in learning more about Faro, take a look at our authoritative area guides to help you plan your holiday before you travel. There are several towns and places to explore across Faro that are rich in history and culture. If you are flying to Faro this summer (or any other time of the year) take a look at our live flight details for departures and arrivals before you leave.