Albufeira Municipality

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Byrn beach in the municipality of Albufeira
Byrn beach in the municipality of Albufeira
Flag of Albufeira
Coat of arms of Albufeira
Coat of arms
Coordinates: 37°5′23″N 8°14′45″W / 37.08972°N 8.24583°W / 37.08972; -8.24583Coordinates: 37°5′23″N 8°14′45″W / 37.08972°N 8.24583°W / 37.08972; -8.24583
Country  Portugal
Region Algarve
Subregion Algarve
Intermunic. comm. Algarve
District Faro
Parishes 4
 • President José Mike Carlos Martins Rolo (PSD)
 • Total 140.66 km2 (54.31 sq mi)
Lowest elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Total 40,828
 • Density 290/km2 (750/sq mi)
Time zone WET/WEST (UTC+0/+1)
Postal code 8200
Area code 289
Patron Nossa Senhora da Conceição

Albufeira Municipality (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɐɫβuˈfɐjɾɐ]) is a Portuguese municipality in the Algarvean district of Faro. Albufeira's toponomy was derived from the Arabic word, al-Buħayra (Arabic: البحيرة‎), meaning the lagoon, that developed during its early history as a Mooris citadel. With a municipality population of 40,828 inhabitants, the population is dispersed within an area of approximately 140.6 square kilometres (54.3 sq mi). The urbanized portion of the municipality, comprising the city of Albufeira includes a population of 40,000.[1]

A tourist destination, Albufeira expands to approximately 300,000 residents during the summer and during New Year celebrations, owing to the number of hotels and lodgings in the district, that includes marina facilities, golf courses, restaurants and bar for the annual flood of visitors.


The Roman Bridge of Paderne, one of the few remains of the Roman occupation of the region
The massive walls of the remains of the Castle of Paderne, a Moorish castle constructed in the period before the Portuguese Reconquista

It is unclear when the first settlements specifically formed in the region of Albufeira, although scientific research suggest origins during the pre-historic epoch, and that the town of Albufeira formed as an out-port of the maritime fishery. The primitive settlement was occupied by the Romans, named it Baltum, introducing a centralized administrative structure and developing intense agricultural activities along with commerce. The Romans constructed aqueducts, roads and bridges, many of which still exist to this day.

The toponomy, originated from the Arab Al-buhera, which means castle of the sea, owing to its location along the coast, or the alternately al-Buħayra, for the lagoon, in reference to the lagoon that formed in the lowlands. The Arabs constructed strong defensive structures, making the area almost impregnable, allowing this area to remain in the hands of their forces longer than other possessions in Portugal. The development of agriculture during this period was notable, with the introduction of new techniques and plant species. The Arabs used the plow and fertilizers, as well as wenches for lifting the water from the wells, introducing the irrigation of fields, constructing dams and transforming uncultivated areas into gardens and orchards.

When King Afonso III of Portugal occupied the throne, most of the Algarve had already fallen into the hands of the Christians. Templar and Hospitaler Knights, military and religious orders that supported the Reconquista, assaulted many of the lands occupied by the Arabs, but were never successful in taking Albufeira. It was following the capture of Faro that the siege of Albufeira became unsupportable. Encircled by enemy forces on all sides, the square fell to the forces of Afonso III, who immediately donated the lands to the Order of Aviz. The Moors were persecuted terribly by the victorious army, which chased the remaining forces into a cavern, known today as Cova do Xorino, situated near the southern limits of the old city.

During the reign of Manuel I of Portugal the town was completely subjugated, allowing the monarch to issue a foral (charter) on 20 August 1504.

Albufeira was one of the towns of the Algarve most affect by natural calamities, but it was the 1755 Lisbon earthquake which caused the worse damage. The sea invaded the town with 10 metres (33 ft) waves, destroying almost all the buildings along the coast. In the town proper, only 27 residential buildings survived the natural disaster, but in states of ruin. The parochial church, an old mosque adapted by the Christians, where many of residents refuge during the cataclysm, collapsed causing 227 victims. Even following these events, the Algarve continued to experience aftershocks, until 20 August of the following year, which hindered the reconstruction under the Bishop D. Francisco Gomes de Avelar.

In 1833, during the Liberal Wars between absolutist and liberal forces, Albufeira was encircled and attacked by Remexido's soldiers: a popular absolutist leader, who profoundly damaged the village and executed many of its inhabitants.

After the 19th century, the community grew through the expansion of the fishery.

In the first decades of the 20th century, the export of fish and nuts represented the largest contribution to the local economy of the municipality. The town itself, had five factories employing 700-800 people, mostly women of fishermen in local produce. Yet, between 1930 and 1960, there was a considerable decline in fortunes, resulting in the closing of many of theses factories, the reduction in fishing boats along the coast and the abandonment of many of the homes. The population was reduced in half and the fishery became a subsistence activity, supporting local consumption.

At the beginning of the 1960s, the tourist industry began to develop, primarily from the national market, but later the influx of English tourists started a fast growth of the region. By the 1980s, the central importance of Albufeira was accentuated, with the concentration of retail and commerce, as well as administrative functions to the city.


Physical geography[edit]

Albufeira, and many of the regions of Portugal, are subject to the administration of conservation policies, that includes the Blue flag beaches of the coastal areas. Albufeira has two main beaches, Praia dos Pescadores (or the Fishermen's Beach) and Praia do Túnel (or the tunnel beach), which is accessed through a tunnel through the cliffs. The beaches are accessible from the esplanade from via open-air escalators (in the east) and an open-air elevator (in the west). These beaches are interconnected; beginning from the Praia dos Pescadores, beachgoers can travel for several kilometres along the coast between smaller beaches. The western end of Praia dos Pescadores is fronted by the Albufeira Marina, a harbour that provides an entry-point from other ports along the Algarvean coast.

The Olheiros de Água Doce are freshwater springs that flow from the beach and only visible sea during low tide. During low-tide unsalted water springs bubble through the sand on the beach.

From west to east, these include:[2]


A sea breeze usually freshen the annual average temperature of the Algarve which is 17.7 °C (63.9 °F) (12 °C (54 °F) in January to about 30 °C (86 °F) in August).

Human geography[edit]


Population of the
municipality of Albufeira
(1849 - 2004)
Year Pop. ±%
1801 4,537 —    
1849 7,443 +64.1%
1900 10,980 +47.5%
1930 14,444 +31.5%
1960 14,736 +2.0%
1981 17,218 +16.8%
1991 20,949 +21.7%
2001 31,543 +50.6%
2008 38,966 +23.5%
2011 40,828 +4.8%


The municipality of Albufeira, comprising the territorial government and institutions, is administered by the municipal government, whose seat is in the parish of Albufeira (roughly analogous to the city). Local authority is vested in the five civil parishes, responsible for the execution of the municipal plans, community outreach and local issues, which include:[3]


Tourism and commerce are the main economic activities in Albufeira, supported by the nearby airport (a 40-minute drive away). After sunset, the centre of Albufeira comes alive with bars, restaurants, and shops to suit most tastes, from authentic Portuguese-fare to Irish pubs.


The architecture of the region is an eclectic mix of typical Portuguese Algarvean pale white and tiled residential homes, along narrow streets, intermixed with modern tourist developments. The apartments near the Marina e Bryn are a unique mix of pinks, blues, and yellows, dubbed locally as Legoland. In addition, the municipality is dotted with rich historical and architectural landmarks, such as the following:


  • Albufeirra Railway Station (Portuguese: Estação Ferroviária de Albufeira),[4] the iconic station was originally identified in 1918 pamphlet, as part of the Terreiro do Paço-Barreiro route. After November 1926, faster locomotives began to serve this line, while in 1938, the Empresa de Viação do Algarve began regular service between Albufeira and Ferreiras.
  • Tower Clock (Portuguese: Torre do Relogio), situated on Rua Bernardino de Sousa, it is considered by the city of Albufeira as its ex-libris; constructed in the 19th century, it consists of a tower with a crown of iron, representing a belfrey tower, with its solitary bell hung from its structure. It is a functioning belltower and illuminated normally during feast days and religious celebrations.


  • Castle of Paderne (Portuguese: Castelo de Pardene),[5] came to be situated on the remnants of an ancient Calcolthic, or even Neolithic, settlement, that was adapted by the Romans as an outpost overlooking the roads between settlements. Following the 713 capture of the emplacement, the Almohads built the Castle to enforce their occupation, in a series fortifications that included Silves, Loulé and Faro.
  • Tower of Medronheira (Portuguese: Torre da Medronheira),[6] constructed during the reign of King John III of Portugal, this lookout served to announce the approach of ships and/or attacks by pirates or privateers.


  • Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Portuguese: Igreja Matriz de Albufeira/Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição),[7] situated on Rua da Igreja Nova it dates from the 18th century (1782) and was consecrated on 15 July 1800 by the Bishop of the Algarve (then D. Francisco Gomes de Avelar), to replace the old parochial church destroyed in 1755. The Neoclassic church, consisting of single nave, four lateral chapels, baptismal chapel, choir, two pulpits and lateral halls, is dedicated to Bishop São Luís, Our Lady of Fátima and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Highlighting this temple is a painting by Albufeirense Samora Barros that emblazons the altar, and serves as the base for the image of Our Lady of the Conception, patron saint of Albufeira. Above the principal triumphal arch is the Cross of Aviz, from the religious-military order, that Albufeira was associated with at the foundation of Portugal.
  • Church of Nossa Senhora da Guia (Portuguese: Igreja Paroquial da Guia/Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Visitação),[8] commonly referred as the Church of Our Lady of the Guide or Our Lady of the Visitation, the parochial church of Guia is a 17th-century building, noted for an 18th-century image of Our Lady of the Visitation, Saint Anthony of Padua, and Crucified Christ, from the same period, in addition to images of Nossa Senhora do Rosário (Our Lady of the Rosary) and Nossa Senhora das Dores (Our Lady of Sorrows), from the 18th century, in addition to azulejo tile that fills the footers of the body of the church.
  • Hermitage of Nossa Senhora da Guia (Portuguese: Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Guia),[9] dating from the 16th century, this structure was damaged by the earthquake of 1755, rebuilt in the first quarter of the 18th century, when the gilded retable was installed. An important work of the Baroque in the Algarve, it has a simple interior with polychromatic azulejo tile and image of the patron saint dating from the 17th century.
  • Hermitage of São Sebastião (Portuguese: Igreja de São Sebastião/Ermida de São Sebastião),[9] built around the 16th century, or early 17th century, it was greatly damaged by the 1755 earthquake, yet was completely restored in three months time. Dedicated to Saint Sebastian (since he was the legendary saint responsible for the disappearance of the Black Plague), an 17th-century, wood image of the saint (which was initially housed in this hermitage) is located in the sacristy of the parochial church of Guia.


Nightlife in Albufeira

A local culinary specialty is a rich steamed stew dish of local shellfish, traditionally referred to as Cataplana (named for the cookware used in its preparation), which is a well known dish from the Algarve. Similarly, the Caldeirada (or fish stew) and the simple grilled sardines, are also popular examples of the traditional dishes, typical of the Portugal and coastal areas.

The nightlife along The Strip, that includes primarily the Montechoro section of the city of Albufeira, is popular during the summer. Among the popular bars and eateries are Erin's Isle, Matt's Bar, Pacha, Cuica, Café del Mar, Garage, Zoo, BJ's, Reno's, La Bamba, and Wild & Co, which cater to the tourists and visitors to the region. In addition, the district is known for the nightclubs, such as Kiss or Kadoc (located between Albufeira and Vilamoura, near the town of Boliqueime). While most of the region's nightlife is situated around The Strip, the old-town (baixa) is also the location of various bars and many restaurants.


Several regular football tournaments are played in the Algarve, notably the Algarve Cup. Also, many British teams spend the summer in Albufeira for pre-season training sessions, participating in friendly games, including Sunderland and Ipswich Town (which have played games in various venues in the area).

The city plays host to the Almond Blossom Cross Country competition annually. Organized in 1977, the event attracts international-calibre runners, boosting this sport and tourism to the area.[10]


  1. ^ Soares, Nuno Pires (2004). "Uma População Que Se Urbaniza: Uma avaliação recente - Cidades" (in Portuguese). Lisbon, Portugal: Instituto Geográfico Português. 
  2. ^ "Guia de Praias, Venha descobrir as melhores praias de Albufeira!" (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 27 January 2010. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Diário da República. "Law nr. 11-A/2013, pages 552 6" (pdf) (in Portuguese). Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Gordalina, Rosário (2008), SIPA, ed., Estação Ferroviária de Albufeira (PT050801050026) (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico, retrieved 16 January 2012 
  5. ^ Neto, João (1991), SIPA, ed., Castelo de Paderne (PT050801030001) (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico, retrieved 16 January 2012 
  6. ^ Gonçalves, Joquim (1998), SIPA, ed., Torre da Medronheira (PT050801040022) (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico, retrieved 16 January 2012 
  7. ^ Lameira, Francisco (1998), SIPA, ed., Igreja Matriz de Albufeira/Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição (PT050801010005) (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico, retrieved 15 January 2013 
  8. ^ Lameira, Francisco (1998), SIPA, ed., Igreja Paroquial da Guia/Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Visitação (PT050801020009) (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico, retrieved 15 January 2013 
  9. ^ a b Lameira, Francisco (1998), SIPA, ed., Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Guia (PT050801020008) (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico, retrieved 15 January 2013 
  10. ^ Cardoso, Carlos (16 March 2000). "Vilamoura's dream comes true as Carla waits in the wings". IAAF. Retrieved 10 March 2010. 

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