Faro is the administrative centre of the Algarve region with a population exceeding 40.000 people. The city has both Roman and Arab ruins, but most of the attractive older buildings have been built after the catastrophic earthquake of 1755. During the 500 years of Moorish occupation the city, then named Ossónoba became an important trading port. With the decline of the former capital Silves, Faro took over the role of the administration for the whole Algarve.
The old part of Faro, still surrounded by Roman walls, is attracting tourists from all over the area. You can still see the open square that once used to be the Roman Forum. Interesting buildings are the 13th Century Cathedral, the Episcopal palace and the 16th Century Convent, now turned into an archaeological museum. The church of Nosso Senhora do Carmo is an excellent example of gold-leaf woodwork and contains a chapel lined with the bones of more then 1.200 monks.
The Naval Museum next to the small boat basin presents the maritime history of the region with an interesting selection of model boats and galleons. Faro hosts many attractive shops and restaurants, and in the old part the visitor can find all kind of Azulejos, the typical hand painted tiles.
At the sea side Faro is surrounded by the Ria Formosa, a nature reserve of 17.00 hectares and stopping place for migrating birds. The airport of Faro is connecting the Algarve with most European capitals by direct flights and handles several million passengers a year.