A Brief History of Faro - From the origins to the Present
The first evidences date back from the 4th cent. b.C, when the Phoenicians settled in the Western Mediterranean. The city was called Ossonoba.Between the 2nd cent. b.C. to the 8th A.D the city was under Roman and Visigoth ruling, and was conquered by the Muslims in 713.
In the 800's the name was changed to Santa Maria do Ocidente.Capital of an ephemeral independent principality, it was fortified with new walls. In the 11th cent. the city became known as Santa Maria Ibn Harun.
Following the capture of Santa Maria Ibn Harun by D. Afonso III in 1249, the Portuguese called the city Santa Maria de Faaron or Santa Maria de Faaram.
In the subsequent centuries, Faro became a prosperous urban center due to its geographical location, its secure harbor, the exploitation and commerce of salt, farming products from the inner Algarve.
In the 14th cent. the Jewish community became very important in the city. One of its more prominent figures was the typographer Samuel Gacon, responsible for printing the Pentateuch in Hebrew, the first book printed in Portugal in 1487.
The general prosperity of the city was interrupted when King D. Manuel I issued an edict, in December of 1496, expelling them from the country in case they refuse to convert to Catholicism.
In 1499, King D. Manuel I was responsible for a deep urban transformation.
In 1540, King D. João III raised Faro to city and in 1577 the seat of the Bishopric in the Algarve is transferred from Silves to Faro. The looting and arson carried out by the English troops, in 1596, led by the Count of Essex (Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex), caused significant damages in the walls, churches and other buildings.
The city experienced a great evolution in the 17th and 18th centuries and a new enclosure was built during the Restoration War (1640/1668).
On the 1st of November 1755, the country was shaken by a massive earthquake and Algarve was deeply affected by the tremor and the resulting tsunami. The religious buildings of Faro were destroyed. The walls, the castle and its towers, bastion, headquarters, warehouses, the Custom House, the County Jail, the Convents of St. Francis and Poor Clares were ruined.
The city limits stayed inside the 17th century enclosure until late 19th century.
Over the last decades the city has grown enormously and now has a population of about 50,000.
Taken from : Câmara de Faro website