The Cappela dos Ossos in Faro
In Faro, the Algarve`s capital city, there are many beautiful sights, churches and buildings to visit and appreciate, but there are none so macabre as the Cappela dos Ossos or Chapel of Bones which lies next to the Carmelite church, the Igreja do Carmo. It is situated in Alcantarilha on the south side of the sixteenth century Church of Our Lady in the Silves region, in the Largo do Carmo Square. Here you will find that its interior is decorated with human bones. The bones of Carmelite monks are lined up in neat rows, framing over 1,500 human skulls. The reason behind this unusual interior decoration is that the chapel was built by Carmelite monks in 1816 on their old cemetery, and so many monks` bodies that had been buried there had to be moved to allow the building to go ahead and so were laid to rest within the chapel. It is alleged that the monks intended this spectacle to shock visitors into remembering their mortality and to lead a sinless existence.
Another interesting place to visit in Faro is the beautiful 30 foot long piece of Roman mosaic in the Archaeological Museum situated in a former convent behind the cathedral. The mosaic depicts god of the sea, Oceanus, and was discovered while a sewer line was being dug. Next door, the cathedral has some wonderfully ornate gold work and finely carved and detailed statues as well as offering the visitor some stunning views over the harbour and along the coastline, from the lofty tower. Up here you can see the scruffy nests built by the white storks on top of the chimneys of the old quarter of the city. Visit the many churches in the city and you will find intricately designed blue and white tile work, heavily influenced by the time of Islamic occupation.
Faro`s Cidade Velha or old city is a beautiful hint at the old Algarve before visitors arrived. With its cobbled streets leading down to the main square surrounded by orange trees and an eclectic mix of architectural styles. Many of the historic and beautiful buildings were constructed after the devastating earthquake of 1755.
Faro airport is well served by cheap flight operators such as Bmi Baby, and there are many options in and around the Faro area for accommodation ranging form studio apartments to villas with pools and luxury hotels. An Albufeira Hotel
would make a perfect base for exploring the sights of Faro.