Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wandering Around Faro by Myself

After geocaching was done, I used my little map to try and find some of the churches in town, working my way south to the main cathedral, called  simply Fe, in the walled Old City part of town.

I first found the Capuchin Church, which was simply adorned on the outside and dated from the 17th century.

Capuchin Church, Faro Portugal

Inside was a mystery, because a sign said it was closed until Monday (this was Saturday afternoon). Presumably they'd have services there over the weekend and they had to prepare.

The next church, Igreja do Carmo, was quite impressive from the outside but it had a sign directing people to other nearby churches for Sunday Mass. It seemed like it was closed for the winter. Also, homeless people were sleeping on the side of the church.

Famous for its Baroque ornamentation

There seemed to be a lot of recent construction or refurbishing of streets. Often, I saw designs in the mosaic like this picture.

This area was fixed up in 1970?

I made my way to the Old City, which has two main gates. The primary gate is the Arco da Vila, originally a Moorish gate refurbished in the 19th century by Dom Francisco Gomes de Avelar, bishop at the time. The statue overlooking the gate represents Thomas Aquinas, patron of the city.

The sun was in just the right spot

Bishop Francisco Gomes de Avelar, with orange trees

The bishop's statue is located in the Largo da Se, which is the plaza in front of the cathedral. The plaza is lined with orange trees (which had fruit on them even in mid-January!) and the Paco Epsicopal, or bishop's palace. The palace is closed to the public and the cathedral, like the rest of the churches before it, was closed till Monday unless we were coming to Mass.

It was a lot more ornate inside, but that's the blog of a later day

Museums were open, and I was able to go into a small, dark gallery exhibit maybe ten works in all. This work was the most striking and ingenious to me.

Wall horse

It's a horse made from peeled away layers of the wall! It struck me as a clever use of a rather odd medium. I went out of the city walls and discovered the Largo da Sao Francisco, which is in front of the church of St. Francis (also closed for the day). The plaza was a gigantic parking lot.

More of the old wall

Sao de Francisco

This car had a "do not enter" sign, good advice for sure

Going back to the old wall, I discovered the other main gate, the Arco do Repouso, or Arch of Repose. This 12th century arch was built by the Moors but later (19th century) a hermitage to Our Lady of Rest was built here, hence the name. Nearby the arch were two blue mosaics taken down from the walls and preserved for visitors to see.

Arco do Repouso

Wall decoration

Wall decoration

I walked around a bit inside the old city again, which was mostly deserted. I saw a man on the street but he was no help at all in giving advice on what to do.

Just like that guy by the geocache!

So I went to the Museu Municipal de Faro, but that was so impressive and extensive that it will have its own post, coming next!

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