Photo: DandB4ever/SHUTTERSTOCK

Algarve losing its charm

There was a time when you travelled in the Algarve and you saw mostly houses built in the traditional Portuguese regional style. The region had a charm which attracted people to visit and explore. Towns such as Albufeira and Quarteira were the exception as city planners allowed high-rise apartment blocks and hotels to mushroom. Cheap to build and ugly to look at. These towns became ghettos for a particular group type of tourist who rarely ventures out to other parts of the Algarve.

So, the rest of the Algarve retained its essential charm. You would see one- or two-storey houses built mainly in the Portuguese style. You knew you were in the Algarve.

However, this is changing as planners increasingly approve construction projects for plain concrete and glass boxes which real estate agents shamelessly market.

These boxes have no character, no design merit, and no association with the Portuguese style of architecture. You could be anywhere. These structures are cheap to build and the materials used are the most un-friendly to the environment. The noise pollution during construction is appalling. They do not re-cycle energy or conserve that most precious of resources in the Algarve – water.

They are a crime against style as they have no style. They are simply a vulgar display of their owners’ wealth.

The Algarve is gradually losing its charm as more and more of these bland concrete boxes assault the visitors’ eyes. If you want an example, go and see how one large concrete and glass box with its fake plastic grass above Benagil beach has destroyed the character of this traditional fishing village.

Geoffrey Blofeld