Algarve or Al-Gharb, The Greatest Influence of Arab Culture in Portugal

More than five centuries of Arab influence marked forever the destiny of the region, starting with its name: Al-Gharb, The West. This presence, which lasted century. VIII the century. XIII, today is evident in the names of villages, agriculture, architecture monuments, the lacework patterns of the terraces and chimneys or white lime that insists on covering the houses of many Algarve villages. Silves then assumes the centrality of the region, the result of a strategic geographic location.

By mid-century. XIII, the the Algarve Portugal are the latest to be reclaimed from the Muslim rule.

After long advances and retreats, the Christian reconquest has the invaluable collaboration of the Knights of the Order of Santiago, led by Paio Peres Correia, to the reign of King Afonso III put an end to the Arab presence in the Algarve region and join the kingdom of Portugal. Besides Silves, Tavira and Faro, Algarve current capital, are definitely taken from the Moors. It was thus founded the Kingdom of Portugal and the Algarve.

The Portuguese like to say that “the Algarve is not representative of Portugal.” What they really mean is that you will find here the greatest influence of Arab culture in Portugal. The name Algarve, like all names with the prefix AL is of Arabic origin and means “the West” To beyond the centuries when this region was occupied by the Arabs, this is also known for its important role in the history of Portuguese discoveries (Sagres).

Arab Influence in the Portuguese language

Among the words that the Arabs bequeathed to the Portuguese language, the vast majority is easily identifiable, it begins by al- prefixes, az-, as- (corresponding to the Arabic definite article) or od- (meaning river).

Perhaps their presence is more noticeable in place names, but in all areas of knowledge exist, in Portuguese, Arabic-derived terms, testimony of its passage through Portuguese territory for nearly five centuries.

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