Although there is evidence of prehistoric people in the area the first known settlement in the area of Albufeira was during the 2nd century when the Roman towns of Baltum and Paderna were founded. Little remains of the port and administration centre now as it was mainly an agricultural community, but some signs of aqueducts and roads remain, like the Roman Bridge at Paderne where the Via Lusitanorum crossed the River Quarteira.
When the Moors arrived on the Algarve in the 8th century they constructed forts at various places along the coast, including Faro, Paderne, and Silves, as a defence against Christian armies in the north. Around the coastal harbour port, named “Al-buhera,” strong military fortifications were put in place to protect the Muslim populace.
The trapezoid shaped castle the Moors built at Paderne stands in an isolated position on a high hill in a loop of the River Arne, with views far over the plain below. The six foot thick walls are built of a type of concrete, and stand on a stone plinth. Holes cut at intervals in the perimeter wall allow run off of any rain water that collects.
An external tower guarding the gate is connected by a walkway over an arch. Inside the gate stands a second large tower block, ramparts around the curtain walls, and excavations have found dwellings, roads, and sewage and water systems along with the remains of a water cistern.
The Moors were expert farmers, and introduced many new crops into the peninsular from North Africa including citrus fruits, rice and cotton, and new methods of irrigation methods using waterwheels, dams and watermills. They also brought new styles of architecture based on mathematics, with arches, ribbed ceilings and domes. The Moors mapped the areas they conquered, which was to assist the Portuguese in later centuries on their voyages of discovery, and schools and universities were established as improvements were made in education, medicine and sciences.
The christian conquest of the Algarve started at the end of the 12th century with the arrival of the Knights Hospitallers. In 1248 Don Peres Correia captured the fortress of Paderne, and massacred everyone inside, and built a chapel on the site of the mosque inside the castle. In 1249, following a long siege, Albufeira fell to the army of Alphonso III. The Moors who took shelter in the caverns of the Cova do Xorino, near the city boundary, were all masacred. Following restorations the castle at Paderne it was given to the Order of Aviz, but it never achieved any further importance.
In 1755 Albufeira suffered from the Lisbon earthquake when a tidal wave hit the town destroying most of it. Hundreds of Christians, who took shelter in a church, that had been converted from an old Mosque, were killed when the roof collapsed on them.
During the Liberal Wars, in 1833 Albufeira was attacked by Remexido's absolutist army, badly damaging the village and executing many of its inhabitants.
Roman Bridge, Paderne
External Tower and Walkway
The Main Gate