Discovering… Monchique – Algarve’s Garden
Algarve! What a resounding word that stays in your ear! For many, a region still unknown – despite its popularity, history and natural wonders that surprise us every day and that goes far beyond the fantastic beaches that we have at our disposal.
In this article, we want you to get to know the real Algarve. The real thing. Let’s talk about Mochique.
For those who do not know, visiting Monchique and all its surroundings, is to know an area that has a great vegetal, cultural and gastronomic diversity. The “Algarve’s Garden”, as it is affectionately called, also offers, thanks to the mild climate it provides, the thermal baths and the mineral-medicinal waters, excellent conditions that help to improve the quality of life of those who pass by.
A day in Monchique is synonymous with discovery and adventure. Where there is a perfect balance between relaxation and longing. Eager to know more and more and more. To want to see. To want to taste. To want to walk. To want to enjoy. And it is this mythic of feelings that we invite you to feel. Who want to explore and enjoy.
First, in this “Algarve’s Garden”, we have to mention all the trails available to walk in full contact with nature.
With viewpoints and breathtaking views. And at this point, one of the must-see spots is Foia: this is the highest point on the mountain and in the Algarve and the best place for incredible panoramic views of the entire region below. Not to mention that, in this particular place, it is possible to see all the way to the Atlantic. You can see, depending on the cloudiness, Cabo de São Vicente and further north to Serra da Arrábida, and for another, to Faro and a vast semicircle of mountain ranges.
After hiking through these “natural museums”, it’s time to get to know Monchique and to go and peek and taste the local cuisine.
In addition to homemade sausages, honey and arbutus, there are also typical dishes such as cabbage à Monchique, roast, beans with cabbage, beans with rice, grain with pasta, all made from black pork, which can be easily found in the main restaurants. Although time goes by, traditional cuisine continues to pass from generation to generation without getting lost.
To try all these delicacies, nothing better than going through Tasca do Petrol, one of the most authentic places that Monchique offers. Here, the cuisine is typically mountainous, made in clay pots and in a wood oven.
For starters, for example, the traditional snacks recommended for everyone: fried Portuguese smoked sausage (farinheira) and tripe, roasted chorizo, Monchique ham, ear salad, Petrol-style cachola, which is in the oven, as it used to be, and others.
Then, there are three dishes that are never lacking, as they are in great demand: the pork shank in the oven, the cheeks, which is the name given to the pork cheeks with their bones in a greedy stew, and the wild boar, another stew rich in flavor. There are also fixed-day and grilled dishes – which deserve reference for the quality and quantity of the meat, which is always “black pork”.
The regional sweets, which is also a charm and which melts in the mouth, stands out for the carob, fig and almond and gila sweets, the honey and sweet potato puddings, and the orange pie. And at the end, to finish a meal, you can even taste the arbutus. And the honeydew. Which are strong alcoholic beverages, based on fruit and honey, but which aid digestion. One should not drink too much.
After this stop, we will explore Monchique. In the center of the village you can enjoy a magnificent view from the viewpoint of the park São Sebastião, visit the Igreja Matriz de Monchique dating from the beginning of the 16th century, the Convent of Nossa Senhora do Desterro and take the opportunity to walk through the narrow streets of the village , contemplating the vast white houses with the typical skirt chimneys and stop to visit our craft houses.
Another must-see is the Caldas de Monchique. A short distance from the center of Monchique, Caldas is one of its biggest attractions. The good quality of the water, considered medicinal, has a reputation; the thermal baths (nowadays dedicated to the treatment of some diseases), exist since the time of the Roman occupation. This people, who gave so much importance to water, built an important spa here.
A small square surrounded by shadows of large trees is the center of this small town, whose main charm comes from the park where you can enjoy lots of shade, murmuring water, and, above all, the great tranquility that characterizes this space conducive to restful walks and family picnics at the stone tables scattered across the hill.
After an intense and full of discoveries, it’s time to go home. How good it is to have the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and set out to discover. Discover a different place, hidden in an authentic and real Algarve.