Tourist and resident information on Portugal, Madeira and The Azores

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Ponte Velha, Silves, Algarve, Portugal

The Ponte Velha (Old Bridge) in Silves on the Algarve is sometimes referred to as the "Roman Bridge". However, it actually dates from the mid-14th or even 15th century.

Spanning the River Arade, the bridge is now pedestrianized and is 76 meters long and 5 meters wide.

Ponte Velha, Silves, Algarve, Portugal
Ponte Velha, Silves, Algarve, Portugal


It is possible that Silves did, indeed, have a bridge in Roman times, as the city was at a crossroads of Roman roads. Also, opus signinum, a Roman construction material, has been discovered close to the bridge.

There is no written, historical evidence of a bridge in the city during the time of Moorish control. The first written reference to a bridge in Silves is from the Cortes de Lisboa in 1439. Other documents indicate that the bridge was still under construction in 1459 but that in 1473 it was already completed.

The bridge was restored in the 17th century but retained its original form. In 1950 a concrete bridge was built nearby, and the old bridge became a pedestrian bridge. Some of the construction techniques used in the bridge's arches are similar to those of Silves Cathedral.

The Old Bridge in Silves
The Old Bridge in Silves

Access - Getting There

The bridge is close to the modern Tourist Office (turismo) where buses from Portimao stop.

Silves Turismo
The modern Tourist Office in Silves

Silves Turismo
Silves Turismo

Accommodation in Silves

There are many excellent places to stay in Silves. These include the Quinta do Rio Country Inn located in the beautiful countryside a few kilometres outside the city.

Another recommended hotel is the Colona dos Mouros on the other side of the river from the town with a pool and open-air terrace. Also on this side of the river is the well-liked Casa do Cerro with views of the castle from its glamorous hilltop perch. Similarly, the new Horta Grande hostel has a loyal following.

In the old town visitors can choose from several holiday homes with just a few rooms such as the Casa à Porta do Torreão (a one-bedroom house), Quintal do Castelo, and Casa do Jardim.

Outside of town on the N124 going north, the Residencial Vila Sodre has 12 rooms.

Also, about 6 km outside Silves is the British and Irish, husband and wife-owned Duas Quintas, set in 15 acres of orange trees, with a large swimming pool.

Ponte Velha, Silves, Algarve, Portugal
The bridge is very picturesque

Other Bridges in Portugal

Guadiana International Bridge


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