The town of Monchique is with a few exceptions happily little changed by the 20th Century invasion of tourism. It lies in the saddle created by the two high hills, Foia and Picota, the former reaching to 902 metres above sea level. The Roman name for the original village of Monchique was Mons Cicus and it was only 1773 that it was elevated to a Town. As with “mountain” people the world over the 10,000 inhabitants of this town have retained its rustic atmosphere with steep cobbled streets and small dark doorways housing various artisan trades. There is a much neglected 17th Century Franciscan Monastery inaugurated in 1631 and very damaged in the earthquake of 1755 which overlooks the town from which a visitor enjoys a panoramic view over the beautiful countryside. The 1661 Parish Church has excellent examples of Manueline craftsmanship around its doorway. The surrounding area flourishes on the production of cattle, pigs, cork and wood. Another important local product is the popular “medronho”, which is the name of a strong schnapps style of drink made from distilling the fruit from arbutus bushes. Foia and its sister mountain of Picota are excellent locations from which to see dramatic views of the coastal plain to the south and to the western Atlantic coast.
Between Monchique and the town of Portimão is the village of Caldas de Monchique that was developed in Roman times as a Spa. Here a visitor can try the curing elements of the sulphur smelling hot spring water that emerges at a constant temperature of 32ºC. There are two further hot spring sites, one of which is to the south of Picota hidden in a valley. Its name is Fonte Santa and it is rumoured to have special healing properties. Some people make annual visits and in its history some centuries ago it has been recorded as being visited by both the King of Portugal and the King of Italy. The two nearby villages of Alferce and Casais are both typical un-spoilt locations reflecting the spirit of rural mountain life. The village of Marmelete is to the west and located on the road that connects to the many sandy beaches on the western Atlantic coast. The small rural town of Aljezur with its hilltop 12th Century castle and its 14th Century parish church is further west on this same road.
Faro Airport Transfers Algarve with Perfectomorrow.