Silves Municipal Archaeology Museum

The building itself of this fascinating museum includes its own National Monument, the cistern well in the centre of the building. Surrounding it, a collection traces the history of this ancient city and region, from prehistoric to modern times.

When you enter the museum, you start in the prehistoric section. This first section is full with fascinating artefacts, from paleolithic hand axes through megalithic menhirs, to bronze age pottery and iron age examples of the first written language in Iberia. The displays are in English and Portuguese, and the museum’s guides and information pamphlets use English and other languages as well as Portuguese.

The shining star of the prehistoric section is the intricately carved Menir da Vilarinha 3. When this was excavated in 1994 by Mário Varela Gomes1, it was removed to the museum and then designated a Property of Municipal Interest. It displays a fabulous array of carvings, from serpentine curves and zigzags, to “báculos” (croziers, or crooked staffs) and more. It was part of the Vilarinha Alignment which still has four menirs.

There are many other fascinating pieces as well: some in glass display cases, others freely accessible. They represent a wide range of the archaeological heritage of the region.


Silves is in the west-central Algarve, between Albufeira and Portimão. The museum is in the centre of the city of Silves, at the foot of the castle.


Admission costs €2.10 (only Portuguese cards are accepted, otherwise cash). It’s open every day from 10am to 6pm (closed Christmas and New Year’s Day).



The alignment of the Vilarinha menirs is about 15km, or 20 minutes away. Alcalar (north of Portimão) is about 25km away, about 30 minutes by car.


  1. GOMES, Mário Varela (2008) – The alignment of Vilarinha (São Bartolomeu de Messines, Silves). Megalithic Architecture and Art. In Xelb, 8. ↩︎

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