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€80 (4 pax)
The town of Monchique lies in the cradle between the Foia and Picota mountains overlooking the western segment of the Algarve. The Roman name of the town was Mons Cicus and on the lower southern slope the Spa village of Caldas de Monchique was constructed also by the Romans to harness the medicinal hot water springs. However, there is physical evidence that the area was already populated in the stone age. Some prehistoric tools and several dolmens make proof of a very early settlement. Monchique was elevated to the rank of a town by King Jose II in 1773. It is recorded that several early kings and queens of Portugal visited Monchique to use the medicinal waters. At the commencement of the last century, Monchique was an important centre with a legal court, a type of university and a newspaper. Today the town population has decreased but retains its original character with steep narrow streets and dark holes which turn out as shops or small artisans of boots, ceramics and local produce.
Rising high over the town is the Foia mountain which is 902 metres high and provides impressive panoramic views. An essential event for the visitor is to eat the local dish of chicken piri-piri in one of the restaurants that line the road as it climbs up to Foia. For car owners there are two excellent drives in one from Nave westwards to Aljezur the other is eastwards from Monchique to Alferce and then directly south to Portimao. Not forgetting visiting the charming village of Caldas da Monchique and tasting the hot springs.