During my visit to Portugal’s southern region of Algarve I became fascinated with some unique art form - Algarve’s chimneys or Chaminé Algarvia (in Portuguese). Designs of these ornamental objects range from simple to elaborate. Cones, cubes, prisms, cylinders - the variety of chimneys is simply incredible.

Many people believe that they are a legacy of the Moors who ruled over this part of the country for many years, because the chimneys resemble minarets. However, the minaret shape of the chimney only appeared centuries after the Moors left the region. As a matter of fact nobody knows much about their origins. The Arabs, who lived here for more than 500 years, did not build chimneys at all at that time, so the origin of the Algarvean chimneys remains kind of a mystery.

Historically, chimneys were a statement of wealth and standing in the community. The more complex and elaborate the design, the longer it would take to build and, therefore, the more it would cost the homeowner.

Set against a vivid bright blue sky and the whitewashed walls of the plain and almost windowless houses, the Algarvian chimneys certainly are beautiful to look at. So if you ever come to the Algarve, don’t forget to look up and enjoy the view of these iconic roof decorations.

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