Silves Medieval Fair 2011

“History is a mighty dramos, enacted upon the theatre of times, with suns for lamps and eternity for a background” Thomas Carlyle

This week we thought we’d share a photo blog with you of the amazing Medieval Fair at Silves. The ancient city of Silves comes alive in August with the sounds and sights of the Middle Ages; and is a fantastic opportunity to shoot some great images, and wander the streets enjoying the spectacle.

The fair runs from the 9th to the 15th August from 1800 – 0100 hours; and is free entry for all. Silves is the perfect backdrop for this fair, the city stands proudly on a hill, with an origin dating back to 1,000BC; with a rich Roman and Moorish history. It was still referred to as the “Kingdom of the Algarve” in the 19th century, and retains many historic buildings, including the ancient castle ruins and 15th century Roman bridge. 

The fair is well laid out, with a Medieval ‘town’ set out for you to wander round. It can initially be quite disconcerting to find yourself walking past people dressed in Medieval cosutme, brandishing spears and practising their sword fighting! You can even hire your own costume should you wish to join in the fun!

Some of the instruments of torture and effects are very amusing – this one reminded me of Baldrick’s mouse catcher in Blackadder!

There are also some live animals used in displays on show as well:

The main attraction occurs inside a tented arena; and the ‘actors’ certainly engage fully in their roles, and are very authentic:

On from the main arena are a maze of cobbled streets for you to explore, brimming with market stalls. Many of the vendors are in traditional costume, and most are extremely happy to pose for you:

The stalls are many and varied, selling food, crafts, jewellery, clothes and Moroccan style housewares:

The streets do get very busy, however it feels to be a very safe place, with families and children and couples of all ages enjoying themselves. There are also many stalls selling food and drink, alongside cafes and restaurants which all get very busy!

As night draws in the sights and smells only seem to increase their vibrancy, with jousting and street drama alongside lanterns and pig roasts. At every turn there is another sight to enjoy, another market stall to linger over, and more fabulous costumes and characters to watch go by.

Some of the stalls also have craftsmen and women at work, giving a fantastic insight into what times gone by would have been like for local people, and how hard many people had to work at their chosen trade:

After hours of enjoyable wandering, we headed back to the square, with one last look at the village area, and a final thought of whether we could in fact fit in a quick sword fight?

And then a walk back across the old bridge, with its fantastic view of the church and old castle, and a promise to return soon before the fair closes for another year – I think we are going back tonight!

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21 Responses to Silves Medieval Fair 2011

  1. Pat Shepherd says:

    Silves is a beautiful little gem in the Algarve. Had the pleasure of a visit there last year. Your photos capture it so well must return just for the festival one day.

  2. Tracey Hand says:

    Great photos. We went one evening too (although couldn’t stay too late as we had “needy” (of the “I want, I want” variety) young (age 8 and 4) children with us) and loved it.
    Next year, we’re hoping to get a babysitter and go child-free!
    Silves is my absolutely favourite place so far, in the Algarve.
    It’s my guilty pleasure 🙂

    • ferragudofan says:

      yes I love that moment when you drive past the train station exit and Silves comes into view – it’s a magical place and lovely to wander around.
      Your children sound old enough to take to the Fair though – I really felt for the families with children in pushchairs trying to get up the hill to the castle with all the crowds …. it’s a steep hill!

      • Tracey Hand says:

        oh, the 4yo isn’t mine (thank god!!), he’s my nephew.
        Unfortunately though, my 8yo decided that the 4yo nephew’s “I want”s were permission for him to join in!
        Next year, it’ll be easier even if we only have our own boys with us.
        They’re more than used to being up and about much later, since moving here.
        I totally agree about the view. As you come out of the other side of the bridge and Silves just appears on your left. It takes my breath away every time 🙂

  3. Really great article with very interesting information. You might want to follow up to this topic!?! 2012

    • ferragudofan says:

      Yes I am sure we will go back next year! Castro Marim has a medieval fair on this weekend as well – the boy with the camera has been hinting! 😉
      thanks for visiting the blog.

  4. carol says:

    I have been to the festival twice now – the evenings are quite special – I found it better to buy food from the stall holders. First time we went we chose a restaurant near where it was all happening and they were overwhelmed – food took hours to come and was poor quality. fast food at the festival was ace

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  6. restlessjo says:

    Yes,gorgeous photos. Found time for a browse tonight. We stumbled upon one of these events on a visit to Obidos this year (blog subject, of course) and the atmosphere was great. The Portuguese do these things well I find. There’s also a Medieval Fair at Castro Marim at the very eastern end of the Algarve, but I’ve not timed it right to be there so far. We did manage to catch Enchanted Nights at Cacela Velha one Summer- all mint tea, belly dancing and fabulous furnishings. It’s a tiny, very pretty place anyway so worth a look most times.

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  11. Maria Tatham says:

    Hi, Alyson, this looks great! The photo colors are vibrant, the subjects interesting. It sounds like you returned to enjoy this fair recently. Hope you two had fun!
    In a town not far from us, they put on an annual Renaissance Fair. But in such an American setting, with Victorian-style American homes, it can’t be the same. It’s still fun to watch the jousting, though.

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