Monday, February 6, 2023

Sagres- Where the World Ends


A Panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean from Fort Sagres

After spending the day in Lagos, we decided to hop over to Sagres, another 30 km from there. Sitting at the most south-westerly point of Europe it is a small settlement. It was the most explored point in the ancient world, and we knew little about the place. Perhaps for this reason, the Romans called Sagres the Promontouirm Sacrum or the end of the world. This wind-swept high cliffed region is at the end of the Algarve region in Portugal and is known for the breathtaking views of the surroundings. The place has remained an important location, especially for the sailors, before attempting long voyages. 

The Main entrance to the fort

The moment we stepped out of the car at the fag end of a drive, a huge fort appeared before us. Before entering the huge sentinel, we looked around to see the unending view of the Atlantic ocean around us, the huge boulders and hills where the sea waves crashed on either side of the rocky coastline, sending a huge spray of misty water all around. The deep gorges looked very inviting to explore but since we had limited time we had to make the best use of it. So we headed towards the huge entry gate. 

The walls of the fort

This huge fortress was uniquely designed to protect the town from the raiders from North Africa in ancient times. From this very place Henery - The Navigator planned the trips to explore the continents around the world. 

The Mariner's Compass Dial

In 1919 a Mariner's Compass ( Rosa dos Ventos) that has a diameter of 50 m was excavated and still stands as a testimony of the marine pursuits from the 16th century. There is also a small chapel in the vicinity, Nossa Senhora da Gracas. Fortaleza de Sagres or the Sagres fort has high walls around the periphery which offer some of the most stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the flora and fauna here. The strategic importance of the place was well understood in the 15th century to establish the trade links with adjoining Africa and the Mediterranean coast. 

The Lighthouse

There is also a lighthouse inside Fort Sagres. In 1587 Sir Frances Drake an English Captain mounted an attack on Fort Sagres when it was under Spanish rule, The place saw several tsunamis and earthquakes and suffered severe damages. Though it has been repaired, the old glory could never be restored.

The Nautical School of Sagres was set up during the time of Henery The Navigator. Many important discoveries, cartography, improved sundials and maps were regularly updated at this school. A number of sailors like Ferdinand Magellan( circumnavigation), Vasco da Gama( found the sea route to India), Pedro Cabral ( discovered Brazil), and Bartoloemu Dias ( went around Africa) had all studied at this Navigation School in Sagres. In 1476, Christopher Columbus was also washed ashore here after being shipwrecked.

It is said that the pilgrims who used to visit the place in the olden days were not allowed to stay at night here, as the place was for God alone! Rick Steves the well-known travel writer has collaborated with Smithsonian Institute to write lucid accounts of this place.

Lovely views of the coastline and sea

The sun was setting in the west and the birds returning to their nests when we decided to pack up and head back to Faro after a very satisfying day. In my next post, I will take you to another amazing destination in Portugal.

PS- All pics are mine

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