Discovering the underground tunnels of Vila Adentro de Faro

This was only the second tour in a series of initiatives that the Group of Friends of the Costume Museum is carrying out to raise awareness of the region's heritage

Photo: Vila Adentro

Perhaps it is one of the best kept secrets in Faro. In Vila Adentro, there was a network of underground tunnels, the real size of which is unknown. One of them is still visitable and transports us to other times. Whether they were used as a hiding place or as an irrigation system is a mystery. 

The Group of Friends of the Costume Museum, in São Brás de Alportel, paid, on the 27th of October, a visit to Faro, guided by professor Francisco Lameira, former professor at the University of Algarve and specialist in cultural heritage.

The morning, which began at Jardim Manuel Bivar, was spent mainly in the historic area of ​​the Algarve capital, with visits to the Arco do Repouso (where the legend of the Enchanted Moura was discovered), the Municipal Museum and the Cathedral.

One of the topics addressed by Francisco Lameira was precisely the existence of these underground tunnels, in Faro. One of them is at the Vila Adentro restaurant, which can be visited.

«Next to the Carmo Church, they also found one. They called me at the time, we opened it a little, but we saw that, a few meters ahead, the road had already covered it», explained Francisco Lameira, to Sul Informação, at the end of the visit.

Next to the Arco do Repouso, he added, “there is also one”, but which, as far as we know, is not visitable.


Photos: Pedro Lemos | Sul Informação



According to the expert, these tunnels would serve as «escape from possible attacks».

«There is no written record, but we know that there were these escape points that were used in attack situations, essentially by people of the nobility and clergy. Not everyone knew about its existence and, faced with an attack, most people were part of the ordinance and had to fight», said professor Francisco Lameira.

Furthermore, the existence of these tunnels has motivated the curiosity of many experts.

Also professor Jorge Carrega, in his work “Brief History of Culture in Faro”, published in 2018, with support from the Union of Parishes of Faro, also pays attention to it.

In the chapter dedicated to “Notable Monuments”, the scholar talks about this “fascinating feature” of Vila Adentro: the “network of underground tunnels whose real size is unknown, as they were destroyed by the various earthquakes that devastated the city”.

According to the author, according to oral tradition, these «tunnels were built by the Moors, who used them to escape the siege mounted by Christian troops».

Still, Jorge Carrega presents another vision that has been conveyed by «several archaeologists and historians» who identified these tunnels as «kanats ( Qanat), part of a water management system, used for irrigation of agricultural fields and population centers».

"You Kanats They were developed by the Persians (present-day Iran) around two and a half thousand years ago, having been introduced into the Iberian Peninsula by the Arabs from the XNUMXth century onwards. The tunnels of the old city (which can be accessed through the Vila Adentro Restaurant) were part of a network of kanats which supplied the wells and fountains of Santa Maria de Faaron, starting from a large aqueduct located at the Alface fountain (near Bordeira), on a river that constituted a tributary of the Rio Seco», we read, on page 10.

Furthermore, the author states, a section of this aqueduct was «detected at the beginning of the XNUMXst century, during construction work on the new Municipal Market».


Photos: Pedro Lemos | Sul Informação



For Francisco Lameira, critic of the underutilization of the heritage in Faro, it is difficult for there to be, in the case of tunnels, greater appreciation and publicity.

«They are difficult to visit, dark… It’s not that way. There are other areas that are underutilized,” she considered.

This was only the second tour of a series of initiatives that the Group of Friends of the Costume Museum is carrying out to raise awareness of the region's heritage.

«We have a heritage group, mainly foreign people who meet every week at the museum, and we thought it was important to promote this. Therefore, we planned a monthly trip to several municipalities in the Algarve, always guided by professor Francisco Lameira», explains Vânia Mendonça.

The idea is to go through all the municipalities and discover more secrets, like the underground tunnels of Faro.


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