Estoi Estoi, Eastern Algarve, Portugal

A charming hill town with two millenia of history to see...

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Pronounced 'shtoy', Estói is a charming small town just north east of Faro in the foothills of the Serra do Caldeirão. Its narrow cobbled streets wind down hill to a charming square - remodelled in 2008 - with the main church and a couple of cafés. On the second Sunday of each month, Estói comes alive for a big market just on the outskirts of the village. Estói also has two fairs of note each year. The Horse Fair in August is a show case of everything equestrian with entertainment at night. It also includes a bull fight. The Festa da Pinha at the start of May is a fantastic spectacle, when at night, a long procession of horse riders and horse-drawn carriages - all carrying burning torches - enters Estói under a fusillade of fireworks. Estói is also graced with two architectural wonders, one is the Palácio de Estói - the 'Pink Palace' - and the other, the Milreu Roman ruins (see below).

Palácio de Estói

The 'palace' was built at the end of the 18th century by a local aristocrat of the Carvalhal family. It is considered to be a very fine example of Neo-Classical architecture. The palace remained in the Carvalhal family until 1893, when it was sold to a wealthy chemist and landower from Beja. The money from the sale went - according to the will of the Carvalhal family - to the poor of the area. The new owner had the palace restored and augmented by Portugal's pre-eminent architect of the time, who did such a good job it earned the owner the title of Viscount of Estói in 1906. The palace passed down through the family until, in 1987, it was bought by the Municipal Council of Faro. In poor repair for many years, the Pink Palace is now undergoing renovation to convert it into a pousada.

Milreu Roman ruins

The oldest part of the ruins are of a 1st and 2nd century AD Roman villa rústica, an agricultural settlement. Later in the 3rd century AD, a luxurious house with an extensive bathing complex was built on the same site. This makes up a large part of the site to be viewed today. In the 4th century, a sanctuary was added that is still partially extant. In the 6th century, the pagan sanctuary was converted into a paleo-Christian church and graveyard. Evidence from the 8th to the 10th centuries also suggests that the sanctuary became an oratory in Islamic times. The site was probably abandoned in the 10th century when vaults collapsed. Also on the site is a farmhouse dating from between the 13th and 19th centuries. It has been cleverly renovated to display not only its own architecture, but also the earlier Roman remains on which it was built. The site has a small but good interpretation centre.

Facility Comment
post office YES
cash machine (ATM) YES
food market YES
Facility Comment
chemist / pharmacy YES
pousada YES

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