São Bartolomeu de Messines - Algarve - Portugal
Welcome to Messines Uncovered! São Bartolomeu de Messines holiday guide
Here on Messines Uncovered! you have everything you need to plan and book your holiday to São Bartolomeu de Messines in the Algarve, Portugal! Get lots of useful tourist information about the town, accommodation, restaurants, bars, things to do and events. See photographs, print a map and discover the beautiful 'barrocal' Algarve and areas and things to do surrounding São Bartolomeu de Messines, such as Silves, Alte and Guia (with its popular Algarve Shopping centre) all here on Messines Uncovered!
About São Bartolomeu de Messines
São Bartolomeu de Messines is in the municipality of Silves and is probably best known as being the birthplace of the 19th century poet, João de Deus, whose book "Cartilha Maternal" was widely used to teach reading and writing during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a typical inland Algarve town, set in a valley, to the north east of Silves.
There is a lovely church in the middle of the older part of Messines (Igreja Matriz), originating from 16th century, with a style somewhere between Manueline and Renaissance, to which was added a baroque façade during the 18th century. The front of the church really is rather impressive with the contrast of white walls and red sandstone around the doorway and the tower stands tall amongst the other buildings.
Some of the buildings nearby are the lovely, typically Portuguese rather grand looking houses with wrought iron balconies, then, turn a corner and the road disappears into a twisting, cobbled street lined with the low rise Algarvean houses.
Next to the church is the museum 'João de Deus'. Just inside the entrance are a selection of tourist information leaflets about Messines and the municipality of Silves and on the second floor some of the works of the poet are displayed.
The general feel of Messines is of a town about to change...there are new apartments starting to appear, and what appears to be a new landscaped area near the football ground. Strangely for a town that feels very Portuguese, it obviously caters for English speaking visitors...we sat at a corner café watching the world go by...well, marvelling at the cars avoiding each other as it was quite a busy junction... and noticed that the menu was all in English and they offered a 'full English breakfast'!
Take time to look in the shops, we were surprised at the number of furniture shops, and wished we had more time to look in the clothes shops!
Messines is situated on the N124 to the east of Silves, or can be reached using the A2 toll motorway which goes north to Lisbon. (If you use the A2 the toll is about a 1€ and you collect your ticket at the first booth and pay as you leave the motorway).
The countryside around Messines is lush and green with fruit trees galore on both sides of the roads - there are also lots of roadside stalls selling fruit along the way. It really is well worth exploring the little villages around the area as they are very typically Portuguese and give a taste of the 'real' Algarve. There is always a café to stop at and enjoy the atmosphere.
A place that should be visited for a spot of total peace and tranquillity is Funcho dam - the views are spectacular - mountains all around, looking down to the reservoir below and the only sounds we heard were bees buzzing in the trees and an occasional cricket - you really could have heard a pin drop. It would be the perfect place to relax with a good book and maybe a picnic, well away from any crowds.
To get there: leave Messines on the N124 heading west towards Silves, within just under 2 kms is a turning on the right to Amorosa, Vale Fuzeiros and Barragem do Funcho. Follow this road, passing through Amorosa (a very pretty village) on the way until there is a sign to the dam on the right. This road winds up and around the hillsides for 7kms, is plenty wide enough for 2 cars and is well surfaced all the way. There is a small area with tables and benches under some trees with views of the dam itself and the reservoir below.
Further west towards Silves, again on the right hand side, is a sign to Barragem de Arade. This is also on the Arade River and is downstream from Funcho dam. There is a very narrow, twisting road going up into the hills to the side of the dam which, at a guess, takes you up to the reservoir that you can see from the Funcho dam. Our advice would be - don't follow it! The 40km/hour sign at the bottom seems very 'courageous /ambitious' and the road to the Funcho end of the reservoir is so much better!
Messines is also ideally placed for a visit to Silves itself - it's only a short drive away and a lovely place to visit. The first thing you see as you approach the town is the castle and Cathedral on the hill with the town spreading downwards to the bank of the Arade River. Take a stroll along the river, a spot of refreshment at one of the many pavement cafés and then venture upwards to the castle. It is the largest and best preserved castle in the Algarve, with fabulous views if you walk the walls, of Silves and the surrounding countryside. It also looks rather spectacular when it's lit up at night if you stay into the evening.
To the east of Messines is the village of Alte, one of the most typically Algarvean villages you will come across. It's pretty white washed houses are scattered on the hillside around the central church and at one end a stream runs down from the spring (fonte) creating a small waterfall near the main road. Ideally, stop at a café near the church and enjoy the tranquil pace of village life going on around you!
For a livelier day out on the coast, then Albufeira doesn't take long to get to - that's if you don't stop at Guia to visit the Algarve Shopping mall on your way! Although Albufeira spreads out over quite an area, the 'old town' centre has everything in quite a compact area. The quite sizeable central square is surrounded by restaurants and cafés; the various cobbled streets leading off it have all sorts of shops to entice you in or just head straight for the beach!
Messines is ideally situated for a taste of the 'barrocal' Algarve and all that the inland Algarve has to offer and also close enough to the coast for days at the beach.