Vila Vita Collection

Cultural Heritage

Cultural Heritage


Sagres Fortress

Located on Cape Sagres, Promontorium Sacrum famous for its outstanding beauty, the “Fortaleza de Sagres” owes its origin to Henry the Navigator, who here would institute a village and die in 1460. From the wall built by the father of Discovery little remains since the fortress was rebuilt in the sixteenth century and the second half of the eighteenth century, when it was adapted to the defensive system “vauban”.

The entrance to this bastion fortress is a good example of neoclassical architecture. Inside are in sight some guns, one sixteenth century tower and even the Church of Our Lady of Grace, built in the sixteenth century in the very place where once had been the Church of Santa Maria, founded by Henry the Navigator but destroyed by the English privateer Francis Drake in 1587.

One of the most significant attractions of Fortaleza de Sagres is undoubtedly the rose of winds, a sundial that many think is contemporary to the infant and the nautical school founded in this Sagres. Place of deep historical and symbolic value, the monument offers visitors the opportunity to revisit the glorious period of the maritime discoveries and appreciate one of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

  • Classified National Monument
  • Open to the public (entrance fee)
  • Time: from 09:30 to 17:30 / 20:00 in summer
  • Closed: Monday, May 1st, 25th December

Lighthouse Cape St. Vincent

This fortress was built in the 16th century in order to protect the coast from the frequent attacks by Moorish pirates. It stands on the site of an earlier medieval convent, which, legend has it, is supposed to have housed the mortal remains of São Vicente (St Vincent).

It is a military construction with a polygonal floor plan, with a gateway crowned by the royal shield and which once had a drawbridge.

Inside the fortress can be seen the lighthouse of São Vicente which was built in 1904 and is still in operation today.

  • Open to the public
  • Classified as a Building of Public Interest

Mother Church of Vila Do Bispo

The Mother Church of Vila do Bispo dates back to the 16th century. However, the present building was the result of major remodeling work that was carried out at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries.

The body of the church consists of a single nave and a channel with a triumphal arch in front.

The ornamentation on the inside of the church dates mostly from the beginning of the 18th century, so that the church displays an almost perfect aesthetic unity, in which decorative elements in the Baroque style predominate.


Church of São Sebastião

A 15th century church with three naves separated by semi-circular arches. On the façade there is a doorway dating from 1612, formed by two fluted Doric columns.

The outstanding features on the inside of the church are the altarpiece in the chancel, typical of the 19th century but with a Baroque tribune, the 18th century altarpiece in the Capela do Santíssimo (Chapel of the Most Holy) and an important collection of statues including one of the crucifixion from the 16th century, and one of Nossa Senhora da Glória (Our Lady of Glory) in the Baroque style.

Finally, another source of interest in the church is the chapel of bones.

  • Classified as a National Monument
  • Open for worship
  • Times of masses: Wednesday to Friday at 5.00 pm,

Saturday at 6.00 pm (October to May) and Sunday at 10 am.


Church of Santa Maria of Mercy

Built at the beginning of the 16th century as the “misericórdia” church, it was made the parish church after the 1755 earthquake.

The church has a single nave and a main doorway in the Renaissance style formed by two Doric columns flanked by figures of São Pedro (St Peter) and São Paulo (St Paul).

The main features of the ornamentation on the inside are the collections of statues of Nossa Senhora da Assunção (Our Lady of the Assumption), of São Gonçalo de Lagos, of Nossa Senhora do Carmo (Our Lady of Carmel) and Nossa Senhora da Piedade (Our Lady of Piety), all in the Rococo style, as are the two statues of the crucifixion.

  • Open to the public
  • Opening times: from 8 am to 7.30 pm

City of Lagos Walls

The walls date back as far as the Roman period. They were rebuilt by the Arabs and considerably enlarged during the 16th century between the reigns of D. Manuel and Filipe I, because of the need to protect the growing city centre.

The walls had huge strategic significance in the 15th and 16th centuries. They connect nine towers that were built for artillery and there are seven gates.

  • Classified as a National Monument
  • Open to the public

Aljezur Castle

An Arab military building dating from the 10th century, located on the top of a hill. It has a long stretch of wall with two towers, and on the inside a vaulted cistern of Arab origin, as well as the remains of houses and barracks.

Aljezur Castle was taken by the Christians in the 13th century and fulfilled an important defensive role until the 18th century.

Despite the fact that the building is not well preserved, visitors can enjoy the wonderful view.

  • Classified as a Building of Public Interest
  • Open to the public

Mother Church of Aljezur

After the 1755 earthquake, the old Aljezur Main Church, a medieval building in the Gothic style, was so badly damaged that the bishop D. Francisco Gomes do Avelar decided to sponsor the building of a new Main Church for the town.

The church that can be seen today was built between the end of the 18th century and the first years of the 19th century, in the neoclassical style.

It is a church with three naves and a channel, two chancel chapels and two side chapels. In the chancel, there is an altarpiece from the beginning of the 19th century with an excellent statue of the town’s patron saint: Nossa Senhora da Alva (Our Lady of Dawn).


Church of Mercy

A 16th century church rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake. The doorway is in the Renaissance style and it has an art collection comprising a number of pieces of religious art, including the flags of the Irmandade da Misericórdia (Misericórdia Confraternity) and some 18th and 19th century statues. In an annex, there is a small museum of religious art where visitors can see objects connected with the liturgical seasons of the Catholic Church and also some personal items belonging to the patron of the museum, Monsenhor Manuel Francisco Pardal.

Castelo de Silves

Silves Cathedral and Castle

Silves Cathedral is located next to Silves Castle, both built with the red-coloured stone typical of this Algarve village. Built in the year 1189 on the site of an old mosque, it was rebuilt after the Reconquista in 1249, and restored on several occasions due to damage caused by the 1755 earthquake. Its monumental structure dates back from the 14th and 15th centuries, with its remarkable exterior highlighting its ogival portal, set in a Baroque façade, and a window in the same style.

Museu de Silves

Archaeology Museum of Silves

Inaugurated in 1990, the Silves Municipal Museum of Archaeology provides essential background to the region’s culture and heritage, and should not be missed by those who visit the Algarve and wish to understand the area’s history and original settlements. The Museum’s crown jewel is the Almohad cistern, an important work of engineering/architecture dating back from the end of the 12th/beginning of the 13th century, classified as a National Monument since 1990.

Fabrica do Ingles

Englishman’s Factory/Cork Museum

The Cork Museum at the Englishman’s Factory in Silves was created in 1999 following the private renovation of an old 19th-century cork-processing factory. Included in its collection are many of the machines that manufactured the history of the Portuguese cork industry, in what was once one of Portugal’s capitals: the city of Silves.

Igreja da Mesericórdia de Silves

Mercy Church of Silves

This church was built in the mid-16th century, after Silves was incorporated into the Queens’ House, by grant of D. João II to the Queen D. Leonor. It was intended to serve the Holy House of Mercy, which was founded at the time. The original structure still retains the Manueline portal, incorporated into an austere façade without any other significant decorative elements. The interior is very simple, with a single nave, where an extraordinary Mannerist altarpiece stands out in the main chapel. It was extensively modified in the 18th century and afterwards, as can be seen in some floral elements and valances in rocaille style and in the coat of arms of King D. João V. The central display depicting the Visitation dates back from 1727/28, according to records found in the Holy House of Mercy’s expenses logbooks.

Castelo de paderne

Main Church and Castle of Paderne

The Castle of Paderne is a hisn (Arab-influenced castle), a small rural fortification founded by the Almohads in the second half of the 12th century. When building the walls, which encompass an area of about 2.47 acres now accessed by a single gate, a unique construction process was used that has since been forgotten - military rammed earth: compressed local earth added to aggregates and stabilised with aerial lime, compacted between side boards by means of a fulling technique. Once exposed to prolonged carbonation, the blocks obtained like this acquired the durability of stone, and so have lasted to the present day.

Igreja Matriz de Albufeira

Main Church of Albufeira

The church consecrated to Our Lady of the Conception was built in the 18th century, replacing the old parish church, which collapsed in the earthquake of 1755. This church has a longitudinal layout formed by a single nave, in Neoclassical style, featuring 4 side chapels, the baptismal chapel, the choir, two pulpits and two side rooms. Conspicuous at the main altar is the extremely beautiful altarpiece by local Albufeira painter Samora Barros (20th century), which serves as a backdrop to the image of the patron saint of Albufeira, Our Lady of the Conception. Above the main door arch the cross of Aviz is displayed, representing the religious and military order to which Albufeira belonged.

Igreja Matriz S.B de Messines

Main Church of São Bartolomeu de Messines

The church was built in the 16th century, during the transition from the Manueline style to the Renaissance, and exhibits an interesting Baroque façade, added later, with white walls and red sandstone stonework. The graceful pulpit and accompanying access stairwell, built with local marble, is a minor Baroque masterpiece. The church also contains a valuable collection of images from the 16th to 18th centuries, with emphasis on those dedicated to the Virgin.