Our last leg of the trip was to visit the Algarve region of Portugal. We chose to visit Lagos – a town in the Faro district with a population of just over 30,000 which can fluctuate depending on the season. Lagos is a coastal town very popular with the tourists but also has an incredible history.
The town after all was where the age of Maritime discoveries really set-off. Remember that man leading the pack in the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument of Discoveries)? You may refresh your memory about this monument by clicking here. That’s Prince Henry the Navigator, who is credited to be the one who initiated the Age of Discoveries. He frequented Lagos from where all the maritime adventures would ensue.
One could never tell that the old town with its whitewashed buildings and neat paved streets was where the first European African slave trades began. Today the town is a top tourist destination with plenty of restaurants, shops and a bustling night life (we wouldn’t know because we drove for hours and decided to call it a night early!).
The next morning, we set out to explore the end of the world 😉
Cape St. Vincent (also known as Cape Sagres) is the southwestern most point of mainland Europe. This would have been as far as you could get back in the day when the Earth was considered flat – so quite literally the end of the world.
Legend has it that the place was named after the martyred deacon St. Vincent who was buried here. His grave was said to have been guarded by ravens and when King Afonso Henriques exhumed his remains and moved it to Lisbon via ship, it is said that the ravens followed them all the way!
Coming back to Prince Henry the Navigator, this was also the place where he would send ships off to expand the Portuguese territories and spread Catholicism. He also set-up his sailing school right here.
The drive to and from Cape St. Vincent was gorgeous through the rolling hills with many small villages such as Salema calling out and tempting you to stray from the beaten path into the unknown. We would often pass sleepy villages and even stumbled upon a pottery house with the most colorful wall.
Lagos also takes pride in its unique and beautiful sandstone cliffs along its coasts. We drove up to Ponta de Piedade and took in the beauty that beheld us – the turquoise water, the arches and uniquely shaped cliffs eroded over time withstanding the wind and water.
It had become cold and damp in the evening and we battled with the idea of visiting cave Benagil and decided that it was too late. Instead we settled for a dinner in the outskirts of the old town over some Portuguese wine, fresh fish, Portuguese guitar and Fado singers.