Today, the 21st August 2020, is the day that Ferragudo celebrates its 500th birthday. This is a remarkable anniversary of the day that the village was founded in 1520, instituted by Queen Dona Leonor. “500 years is a remarkable longevity, an ephemeris worth celebrating with the pomp and circumstance inherent in the centenary memory of the place,” says the municipality.
Lagoa City Council and the Ferragudo Parish Council are celebrating under the motto ‘Ferragudo: 500 years of Living the Sea’.
The name Ferragudo has always been surrounded by some mystery. Many believe that there was an iron machine (engenho de ferro) with a sharp point (agudo) on Praia da Angrinha for landing fish. The merger of ‘ferro’ and ‘agudo’ became Ferragudo. I do prefer the more far-fetched legend though which reaches back to Moorish times. In the battle to claim the town of Silves, the Moorish giant ‘Ferragut’ was alleged to have been killed here and therefore Ferragudo was named after the giant.
The Arade river and Ferragudo were known for their fishing activity, and to this day, you can still enjoy watching fishermen unload their catch on the waterfront.
This town was our home for many years, and we have so many fond memories of happy times spent wandering the pretty cobbled streets, exploring the little shops and cafés and enjoying the stunning views from beside Ferragudo’s church – the Igreja Nossa Senhora da Conceição. An original church stood here long before 1520, but was sadly destroyed by the 1755 earthquake, and was rebuilt. The view across to Portimão and Praia da Rocha, and down onto the local Praia da Angrinha beach and the iconic Castelo de São João de Arade is stunning.
I have always loved painting Ferragudo, its harbour, boats and beaches have been such an inspiration to me. This is one of my favourite paintings of the village:
The letter from Queen Dona Leonor
On August 21, 1520, Queen Dona Leonor fulfilled the request of the city of Silves to establish a settlement on the site of Ferragudo with her decree. That is why the main square is named after her, the Praça Rainha Dona Leonor. I have always just known it as ‘The Square’ so it is nice to know more about the history behind the name. A translation of the decree is below:
«Dona Leonor, by the grace of God, Queen of Portugal and the Algarve on this side and beyond the sea in Africa, Lady of Guinea – With this decree we want to inform everyone concerned that we have decided to establish a settlement on the place of Ferragudo on the outskirts of our town of Silves, making this place part of the town, because we believe this is a privilege and an improvement for the people who are going to settle here, and people who are experiencing pressure because it is necessary to incur costs do not need to move outside the city. With respect for what has been said, so that everyone can come to this place to inhabit it freely and without fear, with this decree we promise and guarantee that this population will remain part of the city forever and never under the supervision of any other party and will be forever connected to this city as are the other places in this area. And the growing population will have the same government and rights and will always be united with this city. And we ask the gracious King, my brother, and the prince, our beloved and dear cousin, and the kings who come after him, to fulfil and preserve this in the service and for the honour of your kingdoms. » ¹
We wish them a happy party celebration, Covid notwithstanding, and here’s to the next 500 years!
Sadly, this is not the only reason that Ferragudo is in the news. Local residents have been in uproar over plans to dredge the Arade river to make way for larger tourist cruise ships to reach the town. The project involves artificially loading two of the town’s prettiest small beaches – Molhe and Pintadinho – with sand removed from the bottom of the Arade River.
The dredging project is being promoted by the Sines and Algarve Port Administration (APS) and aims to expand the Portimão Port’s navigation channel to welcome cruise ships with a length of up to 334 metres. It would appear the decision was made without asking the local Lagoa city Camâra or Ferragudo parish council.
The Portugal Resident reported that,
“The community of Ferragudo and Lagoa Council are in uproar over a project it fears could cause ‘irreparable damage’ to the village’s picturesque beaches and be the ‘final nail in the coffin’ of plans to build the long-awaited Ferragudo Marina.
The public consultation period for the project’s environmental impact study ‘only lasted 10 days’ and came to an end on Tuesday (August 11), ‘with little to no public exposure’, accuse both Lagoa Mayor Luís Encarnação and Ferragudo Parish Council President Luís Veríssimo.
Defenders of Ferragudo
In a bid to fight the plans, a citizens’ group named ‘Defensores de Ferragudo | Não à destruição! Sim à preservação!’ (Defenders of Ferragudo | No to destruction! Yes to preservation!) has been created. In just two days, it already has nearly 850 members on Facebook.” ²
You can find the group’s page on Facebook, which now has over 2,000 members, via this link:
They have also created an online petition which has gathered almost 1200 signatures in just a few days.
You can read the instructions and sign the petition via these links (in Portuguese or in English)
Instruções para assinar a Petição online:
Instructions for signing the petition online:
This is a beautiful area, with stunning beaches, fabulous waves at Molhe beach for surfers, and a tranquil peace that will be ruined if these plans go ahead. And all for what? A few more larger cruise liners coming in to pollute the area. No thanks!
From September I will be a contributing writer for the fabulous Tomorrow Magazine. I will be compiling an article entitled ‘Things to do for Free in…’ and featuring a different town each month. For the September issue, I am focusing my spotlight on Ferragudo. Make sure to pick up your copy of this free magazine or read it online (you can subscribe here) – and check out the exclusive special discount offers for readers that I managed to collect for the Ferragudo area too!