Sagres – A couple of visits
This most southwestern cape is remembered as the place where D. Henrique dreamed with the discoveries of the unknown world, and from where he controlled the movement of the boats.
Hardly discussed the buildings and general treatment of the space to touristic purposes (I’m among those who don’t like it) it is a mandatory visit between swims.
For a Portuguese, Sagres is the meeting with the best of our history.
For a foreigner, it’s an opportunity to learn something about us, and a break in a too much touristy coast. Sagres is the wild, where the warm of the south meets the strength of the west.
Empty beaches, steep cliffs, and the lasting signs of the authentic Algarve and its fishermen. Easily accessible, it is a must see for all that go to Algarve
Sagres occupies a special place in Portuguese history – it was the nest of the discoveries.
A few signs still remain, but it is more important the symbolic references than the site itself. “The end of the western world” in the antiquity, became the starting point for the new one.
The (today) empty space shouldn’t be that empty, and it is easy to imagine prince Henrique controlling from the cliffs the movements of ships coming and going
(well, our old history in school, during the nationalist dictatorship, was so full of such theatrical references, that we easily forget that the real origin of the navigators should have been Lagos).
It must be impressive seen from the sea, but from the land side it seems no more than a strong wall.
It is not the look what justifies the visit, but what it means to the world and the middle age development(and the sights, of course).
Don’t go there without reading something about Portuguese discoveries – You’d risk to miss the meaning of the place.
Entering the fortress leads you to… a small disappointment – after a long walk, a very large space full of history, is… empty.
There is not much to see inside, and unless you are well acquainted with Portuguese history, and understand the importance of the site, you may get frustrated.
The place’s value doesn’t depend on what it is and contains, but on what it means and remembers.
In my last visit I noticed a new effort to give life to the place – good idea!
Nossa Senhora da Graça
This modest church located inside the fortress was built in the 16th century, replacing the original built by Henry the navigator one century before.
Inside, only a Baroque retable deserves reference.
There are good views of S. Vicente cape from Sagres.
Or, if you prefer, there are good views of Sagres from S. Vicente cape.
The high cliffs protect a few secluded beaches (colder than the south coast, rough sea, maybe dangerous streams) and compose a beautiful landscape.
Very beautiful views, with wonderful beaches sheltered by high cliffs invite us to swim.
That may not be a very good idea – the sea is rougher than eastbound, and the water is colder, sometimes two or more degrees.
There is always someone fishing (never saw anyone swimming), which means that it may be the best sport in the area.
Sagres is an important reference to all the Portuguese, for the symbolic role it played in the discoveries.
The use of the place doesn’t make justice to it, and in your visit, you will be more attracted by the landscape, and the sights of the steep promontories and wild beaches than for the references in display.