37° 0' 47.9" N, 7° 56' 5.6" W


Before the portuguese...
King D. Afonso III arrives
Disasters crossed

Before the portuguese...

Before we aware of any construction of temple in Faro, one fact seems certain: at the beginning of IV century, Ossonoba, Faro's name at that time, had bishop, as the Council of Elvira dating from between AD 300 and 305 signs, in eighth position, the Bishop of Ossonoba: Vicente.

As within the Roman Empire, in these early centuries, Christianity was forbidden, there was hardly any Christian building already built, anyway, Ossonoba had a bishop and Arabic and Roman literature describes a magnificent church of enormous silver columns, which a doubt still persists.

The Visigoths invasion of Ossónoba in IV Century was basically political, and the city life somehow kept their habits. Could it be now that the magnificent church, Cathedral of Ossonoba, reported in the ancient literature was built? Apparently, there was a Roman temple before this Cathedral. It is known that this church was frequented by people from all over the Algarve (Gharb) and maybe even further. The surface was found three meters below today and there were several findings that deep, but there was also a hill eight feet high.

The Arabs defeated the Visigoths in 712 and the city was severely damaged. It had a fort, a large Roman forum and the cathedral, Visigothic church of Santa Maria, which was probably saved for the practice of their religion. Suffering from many earthquakes that ruined the city, it was then leveled and built the mosque in the early thirteenth century, the altitude at which we find today the Cathedral. But would the ancient Church of Santa Maria be on this site? It seems still uncertain. Christians continued to exist, as the Arabs were rigorous in their territory and conquests but were tolerant in the religious domain. Arab Christians are called Mozarabic.

In 1169, the Algarve's bishopric passes to Silves by order of D. Sancho I, but only remained there for two years.

The March 29, 1249, D. Afonso III conquers Santa Maria de Faaron, now Faro.

King D. Afonso III arrives

After the conquest of Faro to the Arabs by D. Afonso III, the mosque was purified and served the Christian population for two years. It was then demolished to make, with the consent and support of the Archbishop of Braga D. John Viegas, they build the parish church of Santa Maria. Completed the works in 1271, the church was handed over to the Military Religious Order of Santiago in recognition for their cooperation in regaining Faro from the Moors.

The Christian population was abundant and the church was small, so in 1321, D. Dinis determines the sale of an adjoining building so that they could do expansion work. In the following Century a major renovation is carried out of the church, and such is the transformation, this time they are the oldest medieval elements that we can still find, such as the facade of the tower.

On 20 October 1539, Pope Paul III and the King John III approved request from the Bishop of the Algarve D. Manuel de Sousa for the transfer of the Episcopal Headquarters of Silves to Faro. However, only 38 years later, March 30, 1577 is that this one comes to realize, beeing the seating in this Episcopal Church carried on for 8 years, now elevated to Cathedral.

Disasters crossed

In 1596, British troops of the Earl of Essex, Robert Devereux, landed near Faro sacking cities, stealing gems such as the library of the Episcopal Palace and also a Pentateuch, the first book printed in Portugal (Faro). For lack of interest in these works, the Earl gave them to his friend Thomas Bodley, now included in Bodleyana Library in Oxford. In this drawing, he also burned the city leaving it virtually reduced to rubble and damaged Cathedral. You can read in a report from Bishop Francisco Martins Mascarenhas to Pope Clement VIII the following:

"the Cathedral was burned, only stood for eight chapels are vaulted, the altarpieces were burnt, the walls burned, wrecked ships, burned the choir with organ, book corner, the house of the Town Council and the Clerk, it was stolen silver, ornaments, bells and the clock."

Are again performed great works, now Mannerist and Baroque.

Proof of the Mannerist style is the altarpiece of the Cathedral, built in 1643, that we can see in the picture. There was further work in this decade, as the rebuilding of the chancel and the construction of platform for the future organ, at the behest of Bishop Francisco Barreto I.

In 1674, it is built the altar of the Blessed Sacrament chapel.

Are built in 1715 in Lisbon, by the German Johann Heinrich Schnitger Hulenkampf disciple and official in the workshop of Arp Schnitger, two twin Baroque organs. One of these organs is in Faro Cathedral since 1716 and the other was sent to the Cathedral of Mariana, Minas Gerais in Brazil, by order of D. John V in 1750. Later, in 1752, is made a job of gilding and chinoiserie decoration on a red background by Francisco da Silva.

With the earthquake of 1722, strongly felt throughout all the Algarve, the cathedral was damaged and the organ was placed in the gallery where today we can see it. Restoration works were made and completed in 1725. In 1755 Faro suffers new earthquake, the famous Earthquake of 1755, and the cathedral back to suffer major damage requiring, again, reconstruction works, especially in the bell tower. They have since then, with some frequency, taken place several restoration works almost everywhere in the cathedral, both inside and outside.

We can also see in it the chapel of St. Francis of Paula or of the Relics with carved work of the eighteenth century and a precious reliquary with a incense boat of mother of pearl.

In 1955, the Cathedral of Faro is classified as a Public Interest


- Faro edificações notáveis – Francisco Lameira, Câmara Municipal de Faro, 1995
- O Algarve - J.Mimoso Barreto, 1972
- Faro, evolução urbana e património - Rui Mendes Paula, Frederico Mendes Paula, 1993
- História, Resposta a Tudo, 1987 (Original title: Fact Book of Histoty, de Jean Cooke, Ann Kramer e Theodore Rowland-Entwistle)
- (Management Institute of Architectural and Archaeological Heritage)
- (Ministry of Culture)