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.