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Church of São Lourenço, Algarve

Built in the first half of the 18th century, the charming, whitewashed Church of São Lourenço provides the very best example of Algarve baroque decorative tile work. From the outside, the church is unique in appearance, with a staircase rising from the front of the building up to the bell tower and the corners of the roof decorated with pinnacles.

The interior of São Lourenço is spectacular with its traditional blue and white tiles (azulejos) covering the walls, the barrel-vaulted ceiling and the inside of the cupola. The eight panels of 18th-century tiles on the walls were designed by Policarpo de Oliveira Bernardes, and portray the various phases in the life of the saint after whom the chapel was named. As well as the magnificent tiles, there is also a beautifully carved and gilded wooden altarpiece, believed to be the work of Manuel Martins, the greatest woodcarver and sculptor in the Algarve at that time.

Open all year round, this is a truly beautiful church and definitely worth a visit. Ensure you check the opening hours before heading here; they do alter depending on the time of year.