Sagres is where you can live life on the edge. Literally.
Sagres is famous for a few things. One, it’s the most southwesterly harbor in Portugal and Europe. Two, it was tge site of Prince Henry the Navigator’s famous nautical school. Three, it’s a popular surf spot. Four, Sagres also contains the famous lighthouse of Cabo de São Vicente. Five, Sagres has a fortress and a well-known Saint’s Day festival that includes all types of local music and fireworks.
Should you find yourself in this historical little town, below are some of the things that you should check out.
Things to See and Do in Sagres, Portugal
The list of town attractions.
Sagres Fort (Fortaleza)Known for its white walls, the Sagres Fort can be prominently seen from the cliffs southwest of town. You can get a nice view of both the town and the Atlantic Ocean from the top, much like early navigators did in the 15th and 16th centuries. This is arguably the best part of the complex.
One can enter the fort through rock tunnel that leads to the Rosa dos Ventos, a large wind compass. Looking a bit like a bicycle wheel, Rosa dos Ventos is about 43-meters in diameter and is divided into forty segments made of stone. Next to this is the 15th-century chapel of Nossa Senhora da Graça.
Much of the original fortress was destroyed in the great earthquake of 1755. Since then, the walls and buildings within the fortress have been restored and renovated several times. Today, the fortress’ interior is home to a gift shop, café and a small museum showing old maps and other historical items dealing with the seas.
Cabo de São VicenteCabo de São Vicente is as southwestern as the Iberian Peninsula gets. In Roman times it was known as Promontorium Sacrum and believed to be the place where the sun went into the sea every night. A more recent legend claims that in the 8th century, Christians fleeing the Moors in Spain brought the remains of St. Vincent here and built a church on top of them. These remains were later transported to Lisbon where they have been kept unto this day.
The original church is gone but there is a ruined Capuchin monastery along the cape, along with Cabo de São Vicente’s famous lighthouse. To get here, you have to walk about six kilometers from the town of Sagres. It is however very scenic, teeming with herons and other birds, and totally worth the hike.
Praça da República
This is the main square of Sagres. Here you’ll find a cobbled space lined with palm trees and cafés occupied by old men playing cards and other games. From Praça da República it’s also a short walk to all of the other attractions in town.
Just north of Praça da República is the Sagres Market. It’s generally open from 8AM – 5PM and has all of the fresh fish, fruit and vegetables that you can handle. The first Friday of the month features a flea market.
Beaches of Sagres
Sagres has two beaches of note: Praia de Beliche and Praia do Martinhal.
Praia de Beliche
Just a short distance from Cabo de São Vicente is Praia de Beliche. This is the beach where the caravels of Henry the Navigator first set out on their voyages around Africa and other parts of the then unknown world. Above the beach are cliffs with a small fortress that was once a restaurant and inn.
Praia do Martinhal
This is a smaller beach than Praia de Beliche. I’m really only mentioning it because, well, it’s there.
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