This municipality is the second largest of the Algarve. The city of Silves, 55 Km away from Faro, like other places in the Algarve, began as a Phoenitian commercial establishment. It was occupied by the Romans, but the Arabs were the ones who made it pompous, big and famous.
This city is the evidence of a past with wealth and glory. It was the refuge of illustrious Islamic poets, who in a divine way knew how to praise it. Ibn Mahfot (the last Arabic Lord of the Algarve), Al-Mutamid (the greatest Lusitanian-Arabic poet) or Ibn-Ammar (governor of Silves, warrior, diplomat) are the example of the poetic reputation that Silves and the Algarvian region had in the Arabic History. Silves ownes mainly to the Arabs its most brilliant and best documented historic traditions.
The old Xelbe of the Arabs was conquered by Abd-al-Aziz in 713, having remained under the Arabic domain until the 13th century. It was considered one of the most important cities of the kingdom of Al-Faghar of the Almoadas and later of Portugal, characterized by its sumptuous palaces and by its streets full of bazars filled with oriental preciosities. Geographers of the 13th century described it as having been as great as Lisbon, as Seville or as Cordoba.
The possession of Silves was a motive for long fights between the Christians and the Arabs. King D. Afonso III conquered the city definitely for the Portuguese Crown in 1242, having been the capital of the 'Kingdom of Algarve' until the 16th century, when Faro assumed the role of main city.
During the times of the Portuguese Discoveries Silves was an important shipyard of naval building and it was the main centre of recruiting for the crews of the fleets. From that time onwards (15th and 16th centuries) the city entered a fast decadence, which became still more noticeable with the transferring of the Bishopric to Faro.
During the first decades of the 20th century Silves shared with S. Bras de Alportel, the domain of the cork industry, whose memory is preserved in the Museu da Cortiça (Cork Museum) which is dedicated to it.
Today, as the result of the building of two important dams which enabled the irrigation of big areas of good land and thanks to the excellent c1imateric conditions, this municipality became the biggest centre of citrus in Portugal.
The activities linked with tourism, followed by agriculture (production of citrus) are the main economic activities of this municipality.
The central position of this council in the sub-region of Barlavento, next to other municipalities with the greatest dynamics in tourism investment, highlighted by the deliberate bet of the municipal authorities in creating favourable conditions for the investment in some big tourist projects, make Silves a municipality with good prospects for the investment in real estate, whether at the residential level or at the leisure level, as well in the several sub-sectors of the tourism business.
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