Today has been icy cold, a real change from the springtime promise of earlier this week. So, as a little escape from the cold and grey, my Wednesday Wander this week is to Silves Castle, one of the best-preserved Moorish castles in Portugal.
The castle was constructed between the 8th and 13th century, when Silves was a Caliphate under Moorish rule, and one of the most important cities in the area. When the Moors were finally overthrown, it was by a fleet coming up the winding river from the sea – when you look out from the high battlements across the town, it’s easy to imagine how it would have been, seeing the boats coming closer and closer…
The castle has been restored and excavated, with the remains of bathhouses and rooms now exposed. The pinkish domed shape under the tree at the rear is the roof of the giant water cistern – you can go down inside it, as it’s empty now, but it was used to supply water to the town until as recently as 1920. Apparently people used to swim in it when it was full, which I think would be quite an eerie experience as it is several stories deep with stone pillars throughout. The domed roof echoes as you walk down the stairs, pale light bouncing off the painted interior from windows set high above.
As you can see, walking the battlements is a bit of a challenge if you’re not a fan of heights (and I’m not). There are guiderails only at the highest points, and the fall from the other side is quite steep. Still, I managed to capture this shot hanging over the side, showing the remains what was once an aqueduct.
The town of Silves is a lovely place to visit, with nice cafes, shopping and an interesting museum, where you can walk down inside an 8th century well as well as along the top of the ancient city walls. Herons were nesting on many of the rooftops, and we stood for quite a while watching them come and go, riding the air currents and tending to their young.
And that’s my Wednesday Wander for this week, a small slice of summer on a cold February day. Thanks for joining me 🙂