Sagres is the most westerly town of the Algarve and is an impressive display of enormous cliffs and vast beaches, with the pounding of the waves from the Atlantic Ocean and the accompanying cooler temperatures – usually carried along by a strong breeze!
The Cabo de São Vicente (the Cape of Saint Vincent) is the most south-westerly tip of mainland Europe and the huge cliffs draw visitors and tourists from all around to enjoy the magnificent views and wide open seascapes.
At the top of the 75m high cliffs is one of Portugal’s most powerful lighthouses, which can be seen up to 50km out to sea.
With thanks to Wikipedia – the history of this site is fascinating:
Cape St. Vincent was already sacred ground in Neolithic times, as standing menhirs in the neighborhood attest. The ancient Greeks called it Ophiussa (Land of Serpents), inhabited by the Oestriminis and dedicated here a temple to Heracles.
According to legend, the name of this cape is linked to the story of a martyred fourth-century Iberian deacon St. Vincent whose body was brought ashore here. A shrine was erected over his grave; according to the Arab geographer Al-Idrisi, it was always guarded by ravens and is therefore named by him كنيسة الغراب (Kanīsah al-Ghurāb, meaning “Church of the Raven”). King Afonso Henriques (1139–1185) had the body of the saint exhumed in 1173 and brought it by ship to Lisbon, still accompanied by the ravens. This transfer of the relics is depicted on the coat of arms of Lisbon.
The area around the cape was plundered several times by pirates from France and Holland and, in 1587, by Sir Francis Drake. All existing buildings—including the Vila do Infante of Henry the Navigator—fell into ruins because of the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. The Franciscan friars who cared for the shrine stayed on until 1834, when all monasteries were disbanded in Portugal.
The Romans called it Promontorium Sacrum (or Holy Promontory). They considered it a magical place where the sunset was much larger than anywhere else. They believed the sun sank here hissing into the ocean, marking the edge of their world.
Which may explain why so many people are drawn here at sunset to stand and marvel at the setting sun:
We went along to watch and enjoy the sunset – and were amazed at the number of people that had gathered on the headland to stand and wait:
It would be fair to say it was a chilly evening – even though it was still summer. Undeterred people wrapped themselves in blankets, towels and scarves and made their way over towards the setting sun:
As the sun dropped away, people actually clapped and cheered – it was quite unexpected, and for many we are sure, it was a mythical, if not a magical and even spiritual moment:
Everyone then dashed back to their parked cars (with a little blog warning here .. the parking is at best ‘erratic’ along the road leading to the lighthouse!) and hurried off back home or to their holiday property .. missing what was for us one of the highlights of having driven all that way down to the western Algarve .. these guys in this little food van did the best home battered and fried fish and chips we have eaten out here! All for 6€ for a plate load of food too .. so thanks guys you made driving home afterwards a lot easier.
For those of you that would like to find out more about Sagres – why not discover more through the annual Sagres BirdWatching Festival which is on from the 4th – 8th October this year – click the logo below to visit their website for more information.