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Monchique

Monchique- Algarve's Garden

A land of wooded hills, fragrant orchards and natural springs, the area around the town of Monchique invites you to put all thoughts of sand and beaches temporarily aside and appreciate the beauty and tranquillity of rural Algarve.

Situated in the Serra de Monchique mountain range that separates the Algarve from the neighbouring northern region of the Alentejo, this lush landscape of rolling hills, leafy woods and flowing streams is aptly referred to as the ‘garden of the Algarve’. Overlooked for many years as attention focused on the glitz and glamour of the Algarve’s coastal resorts. Monchique is a breathtaking scenery and peaceful ways are proving to be irresistible charms to the many visitors who now venture inland to explore it. The area invites nature treks, with trails leading you past cork oak, chestnut and pine trees, through picturesque hamlets and up to the granite rocks and shrubs of the higher peaks. A walk up to Fóia, the highest peak in the Algarve at 902 metres will afford you fantastic panoramic views of the surrounding hills and the southern coastline stretching as far as Sagres.

The pace of life in Monchique is far removed from that of the busy coastal resorts. Small hamlets nestle between the hills, home to artisans who uphold age-old traditions and farm labourers who tend to their terraced vegetable plots or citrus groves as their cattle graze peacefully in the meadows. The fruits of their labours are reflected in the region’s mouth-watering gastronomy, which continues to be produced using traditional methods. Black pork sausages and cured hams, the unique honey that comes from the region’s scented wild flowers and the powerful medronho liqueur, made from the fruit of strawberry trees, all contribute to the gastronomic fame that the area enjoys.

The town of Monchique lies between the peaks of Fóia and Picota. It is a charming hillside town of steep, cobbled streets and whitewashed houses. It is a perfect base from which to visit the springs and discover the mountains. Its busy monthly market is the ideal time to appreciate the local gastronomy and handicraft, this being comprised mainly of folding chairs, wickerwork, pottery and knitwear. The March Feira dos Enchidos Tradicionais (Traditional Sausage Fair) and the Feira do Presunto (Smoked Ham Fair), normally held in July, are lively annual events where the best of Monchique’s produce is on full show.

The picturesque spa hamlet of Caldas de Monchique, home to the only natural springs in the Algarve, lies approximately 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) south of the town amidst the exuberant vegetation of its surrounding hills. The 32ºC spring waters have been attracting visitors since the Romans first recognised their healing properties and are now widely recommended for their therapeutic effect on respiratory, muscular and rheumatic ailments. Caldas is a charming retreat, with elegant 19th Century houses bordering a shaded central square and a beautiful wooded park filled with acacias, camellias and centenary trees. The constant sound of trickling water flowing through streams, under footbridges and in fountains, combined with the light reflecting off the foliage creates an atmosphere of peace and relaxation.

Monchique is worth a visit!!!

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