POPULAR ALGARVE CULTURE

A people’s culture contributes to its soul and the Algarve soul is evident in various cultural manifestations. Below we will describe just a few of the traditional cultural activities in the Algarve region.

Traditional dance groups

The fast pace of the music and the colourful outfits are what make Algarve folk music and dancing so cheerful, enriched by successive invasions and by the journeys undertaken by Algarveans with an adventurous spirit. Dances such as the “corridinho”, the “baile de roda” and the “baile mandado” – this last requiring the dancers to follow the instructions of the “mandador” (caller) – are the one that best identify the Algarve. You can hear the clinking of the triangle, the accordion lets out devilish notes and the couples whirl until all you can see are their trembling legs, crowned by skirts and with petticoats taking flight. And while the popular dances of the Algarve are like a whirlwind, some of the traditional songs present an entirely different facet of the Algarve soul. This is the case of the songs sung by manual workers which keep pace with their particular tasks, such as the fishermen drawing in their nets or the country folk harvesting in the fields. And then there are lullabies and romances, which can be slow and gentle or as lively as a parade. Normally, the words are adapted to the times and circumstances when the songs are being sung.

Algarve ceramics

Once an essential part of day-to-day life, water jugs with asymmetric handles, reminiscent of Roman amphorae, are getting a new lease of life. Old shapes and forms are now embellished with stylised designs or combinations of warm colours that transform them into pretty decorative pieces. Still of importance, but without neglecting tradition and usefulness, are certain items used in construction (tiles, slabs and chimneys) and “alcatruzes”, a type of trap used for octopus fishing. It is easy to find good examples of pottery all over the Algarve, but especially so along the coastal area. The municipality of Lagoa, for example, is well-known for its blue-painted pieces. Porches is where the best-known Algarve ceramics are produced and in the Almancil region you will find the biggest production centre of regional crockery, which is distinctive because of its designs. The traditional “lacy” Algarve chimneys are still produced in Lagos, as well as water jugs, tiles, octopus traps, dishes, jugs and pots. Meanwhile, tiles decorated with floral motifs and painted in a variety of colours are made by artisans throughout the region.

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