The Bishop's Palace
The whitewashed building of the Bishop’s Palace (Paço Episcopal), with its distinctive red-tiled roof, dominates the tranquil square of Largo da Sé in Faro's Old Town quarter.
The Palace was completed in 1585, but 11 years later was almost destroyed when Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex and a favourite of England’s Queen Elizabeth I, sacked the city of Faro. Before destroying the building the English troops ransacked the palace’s library which included many precious manuscripts, including Portugal’s first ever printed book, a Hebrew Old Testament. Today these treasures are held in Oxford University’s Bodleian Library.
The palace was rebuilt in 1598 and later was partly used as a seminary for training priests. In 1755 the building was heavily damaged again, this time by the earthquake and tsunami of that year which caused devastation to much of the region.
Today the building is still in use and is generally not open to the public. There are occasional exhibitions of religious art held here, and the interior is worth visiting to see the excellent 18th century azulejo tilework.