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Visiting Loulé
The evocative battlements of a medieval castle. A maze narrow, white streets where craftsmen carry on age-old traditions. The vertical lines of the minaret of an ancient mosque. The broad horizons of a revered sanctuary set high a hill. Just a few facets of Loulé, a town of charming contrast.

Located on the spur of a hill which was once the site of the town, it used to boast a series of defensive walls approximately 940 m (0.58 miles) in length. Three towers, a turret and a stretch of ramparts with a walk way along the top define the defensive structure. Inside it lies the - "alcaidaria" - where the commander of the castle lived - which was possibly built in the 14th century and was rebuilt in the 18th century. The "alcaidaria" was visited by King Pedro I in 1359, King Afonso V in 1458, after the conquest of the North African garrison of Alcaçer Ceguer, and King Sebastian in 1573. In the courtyard of the castle there is a well, some medieval blocks and the arch of the old gateway leading to the town.
Defensive walls
All that remains are 2 towers and a few stretches of wall.

Main Church of São Clement (St. Clement)
Probably raised on the site of the mosque, this building dates from third quarter of the 13th century specialists say it reflects the southern gothic style of architecture. It has undergone a number of alterations, above all in the 16th and 18th centuries. It has an ogival entrance archway spanned by a rosette and a circular window. The side entrance is gothic bell tower began life as a Moorish minaret, from which the Moslem faithful were summoned to prayer, and displays late baroque ornamentation. An ancient pillar of unknown origin is set into the wall inside the tower, next to the door. The interior consists of three naves, with ogival arches supported by capitals. The latter are decorated with carved foliage which suggests that they are perhaps the work of Moorish craftsmen. The columns
are of varying heights and appear to have been built using materials from earlier Roman or Moorish structures. The high altar has a carved and gilded 18th century vestal and statues from the same period. Three of the side chapels merit special reference. First of all, the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Consolação (Our Lady of Consolation) which has an arch and ceiling consisting of Manueline vaults (16th century) covered with narrative tiles, and a carved 18th century altarpiece. Then the Chapel of São Brás (St. Brás), which has a 16th century arch, an 18th century carved polychrome vestal and a fine statue of the patron saint dating from the 16th century.

Church of Misericórdia (Mercy)
This is a 16th century building with a radiate Manueline entrance, with carved ropes, finished off by two twisted, piled up pinnacles. Opposite the doorway stands a cross from the same period with statues of Christ and Our Lady. The carved altarpiece in the main chapel is a simple piece of 18th century work but it contains two 16th century statue one of which is of alabaster and came originally from the Graça Monastery.
Church of the Order Terceira de São Francisco
The exterior of the church is of little architectural merit. An interesting feature of the fine carved and gilded vestal on the main altar (18th century) is the highly decorative tabernacle in the form of a pelican.
Hermitage of Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Our Lady of the Conception)
This unassuming church dates from the second half of the 17th century and was built on the site of a 16th century oratory; backing onto one of the gates in the city walls. Inside it has fine tile decoration depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin and a richly decorated carved and gilded vestal On the ceiling there is a panel depicting the Virgin by the Algarvean painter Rasquinho (19th century). The statues to be seen are also good examples of the religious art of the period.
Monastery of Espirito Santo (Holy Spirit)
Built in the 17th and 18th centuries, the structure suffered major damage in the earthquake of 1755. Expropriated in the 19th century, it has recently been turned into a cultural venue containing the Municipal Art Gallery? and a small collection of exhibits relating to the textile industry in Loulé municipality. Among the objects to be seen is an 'orphans' wheel'; a device which allowed unwanted babies to be left anonymously to the charity of the religious order.
Municipal Museum
The museum is housed in the former commander's residence in the castle. Its collection includes archaeological, ethnographic and industrial objects from the municipality. The commander's residence is also home to the Municipal Historical Archive.
Hermitage of Nossa Senhora da Piedade-Mãe Soberana (Our Lady of Piety)
Situated on a small hill, this country church affords magnificent views of the surrounding fields and the sea. The current structure is 18th century and was built on the site of an older building. The architecture is simple. The main altar has a carved 11th century retable, while the statue of the patroness, who wears a dramatic expression on her face; is from the 17th century. On one of the walls is a cross made of tiles painted with figures which dates back to the 18th century. The centuries-old cult of the Sovereign Mother, which is strong in Loulé and across a great swathe of the Algarve, reaches its high point each year on the second Sunday after Easter, when a group of men carry her effigy at a run up the steep path leading to the hermitage.
Monastery of Graça (Grace)
All that remains of the original monastery is the gothic doorway to the church; which has capitals decorated with vegetable motifs. The damaged gable bears a symbolic star consisting of two crossed triangles, that has yet to be deciphered.
Loulé's Salt Mines
Running beneath Loulé at depths of between 230 m (755 feet) and 2708 m (900 feet) are several kilometers of galleries where rock salt of great purity (90% pure) is pained. An interesting facet of Loule's economy that for the time being is not on the tourist trail.

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