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A Brief History of The Algarve

As one of the hottest places to visit and vacation, the Algarve area of Portugal has a rich and vibrant history. When you next go to the Algarve, take some time to try to notice all the influences from various cultures that have made their mark on this gorgeous area in Europe.

Around 1000 BC

While there is evidence that people inhabited the areas around the Algarve since the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods, some of the first documented people to live in this area were the Phoenicians. They established ports all along the the coast in order to trade with others via the water.

Around 550 BC

The port known today as Portimão was founded by the Carthaginians following the time of the Phoenicians. Both the Carthaginians and the Phoenicians subsisted for many, many years solely on the resources they were able to glean from the sea.

The 2nd Century

The Romans came on the scene around this time. You can still see many Roman ruins when you tour through the Algarve. These are typically found near the water.

The 5th Century

Around this time, the Visigoths took control of the Algarve area until the 500 years of Arab rule by the Moors. You can see this evidence in the names of many areas in the Algarve starting with the prefix “al” and in the construction of homes with flat roofs.

Early to Mid 12th Century

Following the reign of the Moors, the Reconquista began. Fighting remained until the Moors were eventually pushed out of the area. At this time was when the area’s name changed from “Al-Gharb” to the Kingdom of the Algarve. It wasn’t until the 13th century that the Portuguese regained control of their own land.

The 15th Century

This was a time in the Algarve’s history where the area truly flourished. A navigation school was set up, and many sea voyages left from Portuguese ports. Portugal became a major imperial power due to all their journeys.


The Lisbon earthquake hit this year, followed by a massive tsunami. The devastation from the natural disasters severely hurt the Algarve, and many areas suffered from irreparable damage. Although the epicenter of the earthquake was close to the Algarve, the tsunami actually caused more damage.


Other than a brief period in 1807 and 1808 when Portugal was occupied by Spanish troops, the Algarve has been a relatively autonomous and peaceful area. Despite any misfortune that came their way, the people of the Algarve have always remained warm and friendly, making this a great area to visit.