Silves Medieval Fair
(7th- 15th August 2010)
Video of opening Procession
The annual Medieval Fair is held over nine days and well worth noting in your diary for future reference should you ever visit the Algarve during this time. This year the fair covers the period of the Moorish domination – five centuries of urban growth, cultural splendor and religious tolerance. Each day the fair focuses on a different aspect of the town’s history, from that period.
We actually arrived early this year just as the fair opened at 18.00. This gave us an excellent opportunity to look around and appreciate many of the stalls before literally thousands of people descended.
As we walked through the steep and winding calçada streets with all the old buildings we were immediately transported back in time. The acrobats, jugglers, musicians and exotic dances performed in the streets and largos (squares), throughout the evening. Many people actually dressed up in costumes from the Moorish period which added to the ambience. (You can hire costumes from one of the stalls).
At least a hundred stalls lined the narrow streets and squares selling a variety of handicrafts; regional foods and drink; dried fruits and nuts; Moroccan style goods etc There were also several designated food areas offering everything from kebabs, hog roast, crepes, traditional local cakes and local liquors. Not a Macdonald’s burger in sight!
The food themes of the outside hostelries followed through with rustic tables and straw bales for seats. A little uncomfortable, but hey you have to enter into the spirit of the event and go ‘native’ for the evening. However, being a bit of a wimp I must confess we did actually eat on the terrace at Café Ingles in the shadow of the Castle walls. It was an absolutely magical location and more so as darkness fell. Candles were lit and dancers performed in the half light to haunting music in the square below.
One of the highlights of my evening was the procession of all the performers. I could not believe our luck; we are actually in the right place at the right time with an unobstructed view. This allowed me to take a video(which I included above) Other years we have heard the procession in the distance but have always missed it!
The fair closes at 1.00am but as were leaving at 12.30am there were families still arriving eager to join in the merriment and soak up the atmosphere.
We had a really enjoyable evening and look forward to next years fair. Perhaps, we may even don medieval costumes!
Silves – Potted history
The historic town of Silves, (Arab name Xelb) the former Moorish capital of the Algarve (Arab name Al-Gharb), was the cultural centre of learning for the whole Iberian Peninsula.
Silves castle (Castelo) was the largest Moorish stronghold on the Algarve and although now just a ruin, still dominates the skyline.
Silves Medieval Fair 2011: Tuesday 9 August – Monday 15 August 2011