Messines

Messines
Click to watch the video about this village

Click to watch the video about this village

São Bartolomeu de Messines belongs to the municipality of Silves and it is at present the biggest civil parish in the Algarve, covering an area of 250 square kilometres and embracing both the uplands of the “serra” and the lower lying “barrocal”.

The first written reference to Messines dates from the end of the 12th century, but its earliest history goes back to the Upper Palaeolithic and the Pleistocene. There are remains from the Iron Age, the period of Roman occupation and the Arab period, with numerous references to the existence of a castle.

One of the most noteworthy events in the history of this parish occurred in the 19th century, when José de Sousa Reis, “O Remexido”, made this area the setting for his guerrilla struggle between the Liberals and supporters of King Miguel.

It was also during this century that a man who is still considered one of Messines’ most illustrious citizens lived here: João de Deus. The life and work of this poet and pedagogue, the author of the “Cartilha Maternal” on the teaching of reading can be discovered at the Museum-House that bears his name.

The 19th century also saw the growth of the cork industry and the production of dried fruits. However, these activities eventually lost ground in the local economy, which these days is dominated by services and small businesses.

One way of recalling the former importance of dried fruits in the daily lives of the people of Messines is to watch the preparation of recipes for stewed wild boar with chestnuts or Algarve marzipan which are published on this website. The cuisine of the town is represented by another two dishes: rustic potato with bread stew and pig’s liver with bread.