The Algarve has quite a chequered history of invaders and settlers which means there is an interesting story to tell about its history.
From as far back as 700BC, until the 11th century, the Algarve had seen invasions from the Celts, Romans and various tribes from central Europe, and in addition, the Muslim Berbers and Arabs, also known as the Moors and the Almoravides of North Africa. It was the latter group that gave the region its name, ´Al-Gharb'. The Moorish rule ended when King Afonso III of Portugal re-conquered the Algarve, and sovereignty was taken by King João I.
In 1418 the King João's son, Prince Henry, also known as the 'Navigator' became the governor of the Algarve and indirectly was responsible for the Portugese discoveries. He established the School of Navigation in Sagres, which led the way for improving navigation off-shore, which later led to the discovery of Madeira, the Azores, Cape Verde and parts of West Africa.
But by 1580, King Philip II of Spain put his claim to the Portguese throne and thereby uniting the two kingdoms.
In 1640 after the Portuguese retaliation against the rule of Spain, Portuguese independence was restored. But in 1755, a devastating earthquake occurred, causing much of Lisbon, the Algarve and Alentejo to be destroyed.
France also invaded under the army of Napoleon but withdrew when British troops assisted Portugal during the Peninusula War, 1808-1811. Although there were no further external attacks, internal conflicts led to the assassination of King Carlos I. And in 1910, during the Republican Revolution, King Manuel II was forced to abdicate. This saw the end of the monarchy.
Finally, one of the most important historical moments in Portugal´s history was on the 25th April 1974 when a group of radical army officers carried out a bloodless coup, known as the ‘Carnation Revolution’ It was given this name because the soldiers carried flowers in their rifle barrels. This revolution achieved a final end to 50 years of dictatorship. It also initiated a democratic constitution which led to victory for the Socialists under the governance of Prime Minister Mário Soares. And lest anyone forgets this important mile stone, April 25th is now one of the major holidays in Portugal to remember and celebrate ‘Freedom Day’.
For any visitor to the Algarve there is plenty of evidence in terms of architecture that acts a reminder of its colourful history. For example, most of the city of Lagos is still enclosed in the old town walls, there are impressive forts keeping watch over Sagres, Castro Marim and Lagos, and the largest castle in the Algarve is located at Silves.