São Marcos da Serra

A traditional Portuguese village

São Marcos da Serra is a traditional Portuguese village set in the Central Algarve.

It is named after Saint John Mark (São Marcos), a writer who wrote the oldest gospel of the bible and the village’s patron saint. For 500 years, São Marcos da Serra was ruled by the Moors, who left a mark in the village’s architecture, the houses, the chimneys and even in the regional food.

São Marcos da Serra is part of the Silves municipality and currently has little over 1000 residents, a number that has dropped significantly since the 60s, with many citizens emigrating to France and other countries and young people leaving to find work in the cities.

This is the rural Algarve, away from the beaches and the coastline and still unspoilt by mass tourism. Surrounded by an impressive mountain landscape, São Marcos da Serra is a quiet sanctuary located between the regions of the Alentejo and the Algarve. Its white houses and terracotta roofs stand out against the green hills scattered with trees and wild herbs. Among them, there are cork trees, olive trees and medronheiros, the tree that produces the medronho fruit.

There are also many animal species living in these mountains, including foxes, mongooses and wild boars. The church of São Marcos is one of the few monuments in the village, along with an old ornamented chimney, both dating back to the 17th century.

Throughout the village, you can find small shops selling regional products like honey, cork and medronho, a traditional moonshine that is produced all over the Algarve. There is a local market held near the cemetery but it only occurs on the 24th of April, 28th of June, 15th of September and the 11th of December. At the market, you can buy anything from clothes to plants and even chickens.

The traditional pig slaughter, known as matança do porco, is one of the oldest traditions in São Marcos da Serra. Besides providing food to the people, the slaughter is a social event that still brings families and friends together every winter.

Other important events in São Marcos da Serra are Feira do Folar and Dia de São Marcos which are celebrated on the 25th of April. Feira do Folar takes place during the Easter weekend near the church square. During the festival, the village comes to life with folklore music playing in the background and food stalls providing samples of honey and medronho.

Explore this region by following our Silves 2 day tour. Also read about Silves, Silves beaches and São Bartolomeu de Messines.