|Located on the outskirts of town. Just one of the many |
cycling statues I passed on my way through Portugal.
Our final stopover in Portugal, before crossing the Rio Guadiana into Spain, was the lively ex-Moorish town of Loulé. Situated below the foothills of the Serra doCaldeirão, its history predates Roman times, as far back as 4,000BC.
While Portugal’s ‘Age of Discovery’ didn’t afford Loulé the prosperity of more coastal towns, like Lagos, Faro and Tavira, it indirectly benefitted, as did the entire country, from the riches imported from the four corners of its burgeoning empire. It also thrived, as it does today, on its local agricultural produce, particularly dried fruits, like almonds and figs.
Despite the increasing number of supermarkets and other retail stores on the periphery of town, Loulé’s centre has retained the vibrancy and colour of its Moorish roots. No more so, than its Arabian-style indoor market, the Praça de República. Built late last century and conveniently, just across the road from our accommodation at the Hospedaria Dom Fernando guest house, it is by all accounts, an icon of the town. Literally full to brim with its mixed array of stalls selling local produce, including a glut of Portuguese ports and table wines, it didn’t take long to understand why. It was an epicurean’s paradise.