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Trip Planner Europe  /  Portugal  /  Algarve  /  Faro District  /  Silves
(4.2/5 based on 1,900+ reviews for 8 attractions)
Things to do: historic sites, beaches, wineries
Silves is a municipality in the Portuguese Algarve of southern Portugal. The population in 2011 was 37,126, in an area of 680.06 km². The urbanized area includes approximately 11,000 inhabitants. Silves is the former capital of the Algarve and is of great historical importance.HistoryThe region of Silves has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic, as attested by archaeological remains, including several menhirs. The river Arade, which was navigable in historical times, linked the hinterland to the open ocean and allowed the transport of produce and commerce. The town of Silves (Cilpes) was possibly founded during the times of Roman domination, when the region was part of the Lusitania province.After 713, when the Moors invaded Iberia, Silves became part of the Umayyad Emirate of Córdoba under the Arabic name of Shilb (شلب). In the 10th century it was one of the most important towns of western Al-Andalus. Silves became an independent taifa in 1027 under the rule of Ibn Mozaine and his son, who was dethroned in 1051 by al-Mu'tadid, the governor of Seville. al-Mu'tamid ibn 'Abbad, the son of al-Mu'tadid and a famous poet, ruled the taifa of Silves until 1091. After the Almoravid conquest the town became Almohad in 1156. In 1189 King Sancho I of Portugal conquered the town with the aid of Northern European crusaders, but lost it again to the Almohads. Periodic raiding expeditions were sent from Al-Andalus to ravage the Iberian Christian kingdoms, bringing back booty and slaves. The governor of Córdoba attacked Silves in 1191, and took 3,000 Christian slaves. Again under Muslim rule, the city would then prosper to the point of being called the Baghdad of the West.
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