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Historical Sagres

SAGRES – KEY “MUST KNOW” HISTORICAL FACTS

1. HERE WALKED GIANTS

150 million years ago, dinosaurs roamed the earth, and footprints of those giants remain as evidence in three locations in the Algarve (Praia da Salema, Praia Santa and Praia da Foia do Carro). The discoveries are unique in the Algarve and extended the known grazing areas of the Cretaceous period dinosaurs.

2. OF GODS, DEMONS AND THE END OF THE WORLD

Cape St. Vincent is home to one of the largest known collections of stone circles of the Iron Age. The ancient explorers reported them as belonging to the end of the world (Finisterra) the border between the known world and the afterlife where gods and demons visited at night.

3. IF ONLY THOSE ROCKS COULD TALK

In ancient times there existed in Martinhal a pottery industry that lasted one thousand years, outlasting even the Roman Empire. In the 3d century AD a major Roman production site was installed which has been gradually exposed by erosion. Those large kilns supplied amphorae for the famed Garum – a sh sauce specialty very well appreciated by the elite of the Roman Empire.

4.THOU WALKED ON HOLY GROUND

Promunturium Sacrum (Holy promontory), became Cape St. Vicente when the mortal remains of St. Vincent were laid to rest in a church in Sagres in AD 779. Killed in AD 304, the adoration of this martyr led to one of the most important catholic cults of medieval times, and Cape St. Vicente one of the main pilgrimage destinations of the Catholic world.

5. A PRINCE’S TOWN

On 22 October 1443, Prince Henry the Navigator received exclusive rights to sail past Cabo Bojador, and in 27 October of the same year, Prince Peter, regent of Portugal gave the lands of Sagres to Henry as well as permission to create a settlement. From that new settlement, entitled Vila do Infante (Prince’s town) Henry the Navigator organized the exploration of the coast of Africa, until his death in that town in 1460.

6. THE WORLD STARTS HERE

In 1444 the famous journey of the Venetian, Alvise da Mosto, or more commonly known as “Cadamosto”, stopped abruptly in one of the Sagres coves. After meeting Prince Henry, Cadamosto became a name forever associated with world exploration. The reports of his adventures in Prince Henry’s name become the basis of the XVI century development of cartography.

7. YOUR GUEST THE KING

Dom Sebastião (King of Portugal 1568-1578), was the king that visited Sagres, more than any other, even ordering the construction of a residence in Cape St. Vicent. His goal was to personally ght the Muslim piracy which occurred in the area during his realm. In 1578 Dom Sebastião (The Wanted) enters the realm of legend, disappearing in the battle of Alcacer –Quibir ghting the muslins in northern Africa.

8. PIRATES OH MY!

Piracy and privateering has always been a part of the Algarve shores, performed or suffered by the Portuguese. The most famous one was the expedition of Sir Francis Drake in 1587 which landed at Martinhal beach and assaulted the Sagres fortress and the neighboring villages.

(Activity suggestion) – Why not rent a few bikes and follow Drakes route from Martinhal beach to the Fortress. However, instead of burning it, why not just take photographs?

9.THE “UNDERWATER MUSEUM”

The coastline surrounding Martinhal was the stage for many shipwrecks and battles and at least 8 naval battles occurred in front of cape St. Vicente between the 14th and the 19th centuries. The remains of the French ship “Ocean” (1759) at Salema beach gives testimony to the ferocity of these con icts. Those remains became the rst underwater museum in Portugal.

(Activity suggestion) – Rent snorkel, mask, ns and wet suit and visit this unique sea museum at Salema beach. Entry is free, but wet.

 

We would like to thank Dr. Tiago Fraga, nautical archaeologist and historian, for his contribution to this lea et.

Bibliography

Albuquerque, L. (dir), 1994, Dicionário da História dos Descobrimentos, Vol. I. Circulo de Leitores, Lisboa.
Benson, E. F., 1936, Sir Francis Drake. Ardent Media.
Bernardes, J. P., 2007. O centro oleiro do Martinhal. Xelb, Vol. 8:191-212.
Costa, A., Andrade, C., Seabra, C., Matias, L., Baptista, M. A. and Nunes, S., 2005, 1755 – Terramoto no Algarve. Centro de Ciência Viva do Algarve, Faro.

Fraga, T. M., Marreiros, J. and Jesus, L. D., 2007, Contos Inacabados: A história submersa de Lagos. Câmara Municipal de Lagos, Lagos.
Garcia, J. M. and Cunha, R., 2004, Sagres. 2nd edition, RCL, Lisboa.
Iria, A., 1976, Da importância Geo-política do Algarve na defesa marítima de Portugal nos séculos XV a XVIII. Academia Portuguesa de História, Lisboa.

Jesus, A. 2012, 10 Facts on Vila do Bispo, Personal Communication
Jesus, A. V., 2005, Vila do Bispo: Uma viagem pela sua história. Camara de Vila do Bispo, Vila do Bispo.
Martins, J. A., 2000, A Freguesia da Vila de Sagres. Junta de Freguesia, Vila de Sagres.
Martins, J. A., 2008, Sagres: Uma Vila do Séc. XV. Papiro, Porto.
Parreira, R. and Magalhães, N., 2009, Sagres do Mar e do Tempo. Direcção Regional da Cultura do Algarve, Faro.

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