For those who love to walk, visiting the thermal springs of Fonte Santa da Fornalha is a dream.
You will need to cross the Monchique River a few times so best not visit after heavy rains (in the summer it is just a trickle) and we suggest you take water and a picnic to be enjoyed when you reach your destination.
These thermal springs are not what you would expect them to be. And in truth, after having been acquired by Monchique council, you would expect the baths to be housed in more than the simple buildings they are.
The water emerges at around 27ºC and, being rich in sodium bicarbonate, it will no doubt ease those suffering from rheumatism and dermatitis — it is said the water has curative powers.
Stories about the springs date back to the 13th and 14th centuries when it is believed that two kings of Portugal, D Sancho II and D João I, visited for treatment.
Healing by the waters, reported by Acciaioli, date back to the summer of 1788. He also noted that Ramos, 1839, stated the existence of two springs which the locals called Águas Quentes (Hot Waters).
Almeida (1966) describes the area: “In this ravine, which flows into the Ribeira da Fonte Santa, there is a small cluster of houses where the sick gather in the summer for treatment, in the most deplorable promiscuity and in unbelievably unsanitary conditions”.
As less people visited, the area fell into disrepair and Monchique’s council currently have no plans to rebuild the structures or improve access. They want to preserve its “peculiarities”.
We are all for keeping the area in its natural beauty – enjoy the trail, not a short one but definitely one of beauty.
For those who enjoy walking there are many trails to be appreciated in Algarve. The Fishermen’s Trail (Trilho dos Pescadores) is a coastal footpath of 13 stages. For information on more walks/trails in the region click here.
Image courtesy of: geo.pt