Situated in a gorge between the Foia and Picota peaks, the picturesque town of Monchique is the ideal starting point for a visit to an area that shows an Algarve still almost untouched.
The story of Monchique's origins dates back to the presence of the Romans in Caldas de Monchique, who considered its waters sacred, but the first signs of occupation of the territory are much older. The grandeur of the territory of the Serra de Monchique also did not go unnoticed by the Muslims, who called it the "Sacred Mountain" (Munt Šāqir).
In the following centuries, the mountain became more populated, until, in the 18th century (after a failed attempt in the 16th century), the settlement of Monchique was already large enough to be elevated to a town and was detached from Silves. Today, Monchique is a graceful town with a distinctive architecture and a handicraft production that bears witness to the richness of the mountain, as well as to the tradition of the crafts that developed here.
Amongst its steep and narrow streets, one can contemplate a vast set of white houses with the typical skirt chimneys, very different from the chimneys on the Algarve coast. Unlike those, the base of the skirt chimneys is usually the same width as the kitchen, as it was in this part of the house that families used to spend most of their time. The fire under the chimneys served as a fireplace for heating, as a cooker and also as a smokehouse to cure the sausages so typical of this area of the Algarve.
In the town centre, you can enjoy a magnificent view from the Miradouro de São Sebastião (São Sebastião Viewpoint), from where you can see the whole urban area of Monchique. Other points of interest in the town include the Igreja Matriz de Monchique (Main Church of Monchique), which was probably built at the end of the 15th century or the beginning of the 16th century, and the Convento de Nossa Senhora do Desterro (Nossa Senhora do Desterro Convent), a Franciscan monastery founded in 1631.
There are also several traditional handicraft shops to visit in the town, selling everything from tapestries to ceramics and wicker basketwork, products that are real calling cards of this mountainous territory. However, one of the most characteristic pieces of local handicraft is the X-chair, a supposed Roman legacy that is still manufactured there, although with alterations to the secular model, to make the seat of the chairs more comfortable.
The town also has an Urban Park that develops along a stream resulting from a valley surrounded by vegetation and where you can take a walk through the existing walking paths. For those who choose to relax, the complex is equipped with garden benches and picnic areas.