Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Algarve chimneys, a speciality on the way to extinction

View of Albufeira
Back from a week in the Algarve, at Albufeira.  A pleasant holiday beside a calm Atlantic in warm sunny weather, never out of shorts, and no need of a sweater even in the evenings.  The only drawback was most of the voices you hear are English and the entire town which was once a fishing village consists of restaurants and bars and shops selling beach umbrellas, and some quite nice pottery.  If you were local it would depress you to behold a hillside quite covered in tourist apartment blocks, and you might wonder what the planning department has been doing. Though since all this is done for my benefit, it's hardly my place to complain.  It is however Abel’s place.  Abel is a new friend I've made in Albufeira and along with a couple of thousand others he’s part of a Facebook group devoted to preserving the distinctive Algarve chimneys, which were first drawn to my attention by a tourist guide last year.  Here are some:-

Photos by João Lelo from the Facebook page
Chaminés Algarvias – Uma Espécie em Vias de Extinção
(Algarve chimneys, a specialty on the way to extinction)
I was astonished to learn that many instances of these chimneys are even now being demolished, and that some of those whose photos I have seen, actually no longer exist. Before I left, I sent a message to the Director of Turismo do Algarve, expressing my dismay and concluding “Surely something should be done?”  There seems little confidence in the local authorities however. A Facebook group member posted (in English) “A very well meant initiative, but probably going to the wrong address. Authorities are the last to take appropriate measures. It's up to every single Portuguese to be aware of their beautiful heritage. But not even most of the architects have the right feeling for it. This group is a good approach to reach that goal!”

By the way for a bit more on the history of the chimneys and of Muslim-Christian relations in Portugal, you can read “Of mosques and chimneys in the Algarve”, a blog I wrote last year.


  1. I've had a reply from Cristiana Viegas of Região de Turismo do Algarve thanking me for my concern about the Algarve heritage, particularly Algarve traditional chimneys. She assures me that whilst the Algarve Tourism Board lacks the power, that is the legal capacity, to intervene in private construction, what they can do is raise awareness in the local and territorial planning bodies about the importance of preserving traditional aspects of Algarve architecture. They have been doing it through campaigns, publications, etc. for several years, and will continue to do so.

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