Religious Tourism – Part 3, Islamites

MertolaPart 3. In my books on tourism potentials in the Algarve and the whole of Portugal, I mentioned religious tourism as something with great profit, to come. In the book RESSURGIR, on my chapter about the FUTURE OF TOURISM, I repeated it.

Fátima is the great attraction for Catholics all over the world. Guarda, Belmonte for Jews. Lisbon, Coimbra and Mertola, for Islamites. Most of locations in the Algarve have Arabic names. Al-cantar-ilha, for instance, means The Small Nice Bridge.

During 550 years the Moors developed both So. Spain and the Algarve. They salted and exported fish as the Romans. Their fortresses remain today, totally rehab, as in Silves, or in half-ruins, as in Alvor. Their art is still inspiring many buildings and tiles, mainly in the Algarve, as in Estoi. The Mosque in Lisbon is gorgeous. A guided tour there is worth two or more hours.

When Goa was taken by the Chinese, thousands of Ismailis and Islamites there moved to Mozambique, then to Portugal, bringing a long cultural and commercial tradition, which continues today.

When the tourism boom reached the Algarve, with the start of the international airport of Faro, in 1965, hundreds of Arab-owned funds invested in hotels and resorts. As Portugal´s governments along many decades maintain a balanced relationship to both Israel and the Arabic countries, many Ismailis and Islamites have received asylum as well Indians and Pakistanis in need of job. The same for Mozambicans.

Islamic towns here used buildings and materials from the roman time. With excellent flights by Emirates, religious routes passing Al-Uśbuna (Lisbon), Santarin (Santarém), Kulūmriyya (Coimbra), Mārtula (Mértola) and Xilb (Silves)  could bring many millions Euros by high-class tourists.


READ PART 1: Religious tourism - Catholics

READ PART 2:  Religious tourism - Jews

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