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Olhão

Map of Olhão and surroundings, with main points of interest, useful locations and residential areas. Distances to the main locations in the south of Portugal

Map of Olhão and surroundings, with main points of interest, useful locations and residential areas. Distances to the main locations in the south of Portugal

… the southern city framed by ria formosa

Olhão, a city population of 16,000 and a municipality count of 45,500

Olhão, a city population of 16,000 and a municipality count of 45,500
Olhão’s city, with roots tracing back to the 16th century, with it’s distinct landmarks viewed from above. The historic Barreta neighborhood on the left, the picturesque Ria Formosa avenue stretching from the bottom to the center, and the iconic red Olhão market standing prominently in the middle.

The old fishermen’s pier is centered to the right, while the new marina occupies the bottom right corner. The Ria Formosa gracefully borders the right frame, leading the eye to the distant Culatra islands and the Farol channel on the horizon. Olhão is located in the Eastern Algarve.

Olhão Coastal Transformation

Olhão Coastal Transformation

Olhão’s coastal region showcases its evolution through rejuvenated structures. Industrial warehouses have made way for contemporary restaurants, and luxury apartments now overlook the serene river and bustling marina. The 5-star hotel and newly-built marina stand as symbols of the area’s newfound luxury, inviting both foreign and national investors.

The view captures Olhão’s embarkation pier, the departure point for ferries heading to Deserta, Farol, Culatra, and Armona islands. Notably, a ferry is positioned in the center-left. To the right, the fishermen’s pontoon, the iconic market, and the sprawling city can be observed. The Ria Formosa’s graceful curve delineates the coast, stretching out towards Faro.

The Unique Cubist Signature of Olhão

The Unique Cubist Signature of Olhão

Olhão, a portuguese city with its roots deep in the 18th century, proudly showcases its distinctive “Cubist” architectural heritage. Contrary to common assumptions, this architectural style wasn’t inherited from the era of Arab occupation. Instead, it emerged as a unique local expression, manifesting predominantly in neighborhoods like Bairro da Barreta and Bairro do Levante.

Homes in Olhão are celebrated for their cubic designs. These structures, unparalleled in their aesthetic allure, boast elevated terraces known as “soteias”. Access to these terraces is typically provided by a stairway called a “pangaio”. As time progressed, features reminiscent of Moorish influence, such as tiles and cubic chimneys, were seamlessly integrated. A notable evolution in Olhão’s architectural landscape was the innovation of adding steps atop the pangaio. This architectural nuance birthed the “lookout” – a raised terrace variant, which in some homes, impressively stacks up to three levels.

More than just bricks and mortar, this architecture encapsulates Olhão’s rich cultural tapestry. It stands as a testament to the city’s history and identity, emphasizing the imperative of safeguarding its unparalleled uniqueness amidst the tidal waves of modernization.

In the Baroque Quarter of Olhão

Olhão's Barreta District: Narrow Streetscape

Olhão’s Barreta District: Narrow Streetscape
Barreta showcases Olhão’s quintessential architecture: tightly-packed homes, interspersed with slender alleyways. These streets, paved with stone, encapsulate history and local traditions.

Floripes Legend Statue in Olhão's Baroque District

Floripes Legend Statue in Olhão’s Baroque District
Esteemed statue depicting the “Moura Floripes” legend, situated along the “Caminho das Lendas” in Bairro das Barrocas. Floripes is a prominent figure in Olhão, believed not to be a “moura” in the ethnic sense but an “enchanted moira”. Floripes is belived to be an ethereal beauty, often sighted during the late hours, drawing parallels with mermaids. She is said to wander around the city, especially near fishermen. Many claim to have seen her in daily routines, from visiting the supermarket to being amidst crowded places.

Carolas, the Legend of the Big-Eyed Boy in Barreta

Carolas, the Legend of the Big-Eyed Boy in Barreta
On the shadowed streets of the Barreta quarter during dark nights, fishermen would often encounter a robust boy with strikingly large black eyes, tears streaming down his face. Despite his silence, his distress was evident. Many compassionate fishermen attempted to console him, lifting him into their arms. However, as they walked, the weight of the boy would inexplicably increase, becoming unbearable, eventually leading them to set him back on the ground, where he’d continue his mournful cries. As mysteriously as he appeared, one day, the boy vanished. Whispered tales suggest that Moura Floripes, when she departed for the lands of North Africa, took the sorrowful big-eyed boy with her.

The legend of the Big-eyed boy on the way of the legends...

The legend of the Big-eyed boy on the way of the legends…

Historic Dual Markets of Olhão

Historic Dual Markets of Olhão

Olhão’s Municipal Markets dedicated to fish and seafood,and fruits and other produce. Inside, vendors proudly offer local products, while the exterior boasts bustling cafes and restaurants. Serving as one of Olhão’s ex-libris, these markets draw people into their hub of shopping, dining, and relaxation. Positioned against the backdrop of a serene park by the estuary, they offer a harmonious blend of natural and architectural beauty.

The construction of this emblematic landmark commenced in 1912, with its inauguration in 1916. Though it underwent rehabilitation in the late 20th century, the markets remain true to their historic aesthetic, having reopened their doors to an eager public in 1998 while preserving their timeless exterior.

Caíque Bom Sucesso: A Symbol of Olhão's Heroic Past

Caíque Bom Sucesso: A Symbol of Olhão’s Heroic Past

Perched prominently in the Olhão marina, adjacent to the market, the replica of the Caíque Bom Sucesso stands as a living testament to the city’s indomitable spirit and its rich history.

On July 6, 1808, a brave contingent of Olhão fishermen set sail on the Caíque Bom Sucesso. This fishing vessel, measuring roughly 20 meters in length and 5 meters across with two sails, made the daring voyage across the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Their pivotal mission: to relay to King D. João VI, who was in exile in Brazil at the time, the triumphant news of Olhão’s victory over the French invaders.

In honor of this valiant endeavor, King D. João VI bestowed upon Olhão the prestigious designation of “Villa da Restauração,” marking its administrative independence from Faro.

View of the Caíque Bom Sucesso and the market building from the Ria Formosa

View of the Caíque Bom Sucesso and the market building from the Ria Formosa

Life in Olhão market

Inside Olhão's Fish Market

Inside Olhão’s Fish Market
Amidst the lively ambiance, a fisherman vendor proudly displays a sizable catch, drawing attention and admiration.

Inside Olhão's Fruit Market

Inside Olhão’s Fruit Market

Saturdays Local Produce Stalls Outside Olhão Market

Saturdays Local Produce Stalls Outside Olhão Market
Arrayed outside the iconic Olhão market are stalls brimming with fresh produce. Local farmers proudly display a colorful medley of fruits and vegetables, reflecting the region’s rich agricultural bounty.

Gastronomic Flourish on Olhão's Coastal Avenue

Gastronomic Flourish on Olhão’s Coastal Avenue
In recent times, Olhão’s coastal avenue has witnessed an uptick in culinary establishments. While many restaurants champion the fresh fish that the area is renowned for, patrons can also indulge in a variety of seafood delights, classic Portuguese dishes, and Portugal’s esteemed wines.

Floripes video

Historical Origin of Floripes in Olhão
Produced by Abel Ribeiro Alves and bolstered by the support of the Ministry of Culture, the Operational Programme of Culture, the European Community, and the Municipality of Olhão, this video unravels the rich history of Olhão in the Algarve. Seamlessly weaving the city’s past with the mesmerizing tale of the legend of Floripes, it offers insights as shared by the locals themselves. For those intrigued by the essence and origins of Olhão, this video is a captivating exploration of its raison d’être.

Olhão’s Fishing Heritage

Traditional tuna fishing in the ancient Algarve

Traditional tuna fishing in the ancient Algarve
Deeply rooted in the annals of time, Olhão, a coastal town in the Algarve, tells a tale of transformation from a bustling tuna fishing hub to a beacon for tourists. As centuries passed, Olhão expanded, gaining prominence as a vital fishing locus, particularly known for its tuna catches. The town’s evolution didn’t halt at fishing; it dovetailed into the booming canned fish industry, embracing increased industrialization and weaving a network of sea-related services.

Olhão from fishing to tourism

Olhão from fishing to tourism
Olhão’s story is a compelling tale of evolution and adaptation. Its initial surge of growth was deeply rooted in fishing. The onset of the 20th century saw the town burgeoning with canning factories, echoing its significant prowess in the fishing sector.

The town, once driven by fishing, now finds its younger generation veering towards the thriving tourism industry. The quaint streets of Olhão today are lined with a plethora of restaurants, newly renovated accommodations, and bustling real estate ventures. Tourist excursions and engaging activities in the Ria Formosa further accentuate its allure for visitors from around the globe.

Yet, Olhão hasn’t forgotten its roots. The sight of grand fishing vessels, slicing through the waters of the Ria Formosa day and night, serves as a constant reminder of the town’s rich maritime heritage.

Fishing Boats Lined at Olhão Dock

Fishing Boats Lined at Olhão Dock
The heritage of Olhão is palpably alive, with fishing enduring as a primary occupation for many residents. Situated in the western part of the city, Olhão boasts a bustling fishing port. Adjacent to this, the industrial zone stands, its operations still deeply intertwined with fish processing.

Fishing Trawler Navigating Ria Formosa channel.

Fishing Trawler Navigating Ria Formosa channel.

Television report about fishermen in Olhão

Ria Formosa Islands

Ria Formosa's Alluring Beaches

Ria Formosa’s Alluring Beaches
The beaches of Ria Formosa captivate countless locals and tourists alike. With pristine shores and crystalline waters, they are a prime attraction in the region. While many individuals have their own means of transportation to these coastal gems, others rely on various available transit options to experience their beauty.

Passenger Boat to Culatra Island

Passenger Boat to Culatra Island
Passenger boats offer regular routes to the enchanting Culatra Island from Olhão.

Taxi Boat Services in Olhão

Taxi Boat Services in Olhão
From Olhão, taxi boats grant visitors the flexibility to explore every captivating island within Ria Formosa for those contemplating a more permanent stay. For those seeking a quicker journey or off-schedule voyages, 24-hour aqua taxis stand ready to whisk travelers across the serene waters.

Daytime in Ria Formosa

Daytime in Ria Formosa
During the day, Ria Formosa reveals its radiant beauty, with shimmering waters reflecting the bright Algarvian sun, and a vibrant ecosystem bustling with life. The lagoons and marshes play host to various bird species, making it a natural haven for enthusiasts and casual observers alike.

Sailboats in Ria Formosa

Sailboats in Ria Formosa
The scenic Ria Formosa beckons sailboats, many of which anchor overnight opposite the charming villages of Culatra and Farol, offering a picturesque view of the serene landscape.

Ria Formosa Coastline Map

Ria Formosa Coastline Map
A detailed representation of the intricate coastline of Ria Formosa, highlighting its meandering waterways, islands, and key landmarks. The map serves as an invaluable guide for navigating the unique and biodiverse estuarine system of this region.

Main cities in leeward Algarve