20 Years From Now...

"20 YEARS FROM NOW," Mark Twain said, “you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the ones you did.”THIS online journal is dedicated to our next 20 years!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Sagres Fortress

Sagres is the most westerly town in the Algarve. Its famous for its fortress, built in the 15th century, as well as being home to Prince Henry the Navigator's School of Navigation.

A fierce wind whipped across the barren land the entire length of our visit. It was so strong at times we found it difficult to hold our camera steady while taking a photo, and on more than one occasion a powerful gust pushed us aside like rag dolls. With 306 degree views this jagged peninsula is custom made for a fortress. It's also a haven for surfers and we spotted one riding the waves in the photo below. 

The size of the fortress and grounds was larger than we expected as we walked toward it from town. Distances between buildings and the lighthouse were also deceiving. It took us almost three hours to walk all around and see everything there is to see of the fort and grounds. See that little speck in the centre of the photo below? That's the gateway to the fort.

See what I mean about things appearing smaller than it really is?

The entryway weaves through the thick walls to an admission booth. The room itself is cavernous and provides information about the site. Visitors exit via the other side through the square doorway into the courtyard. 

There is some disagreement about the large circle shown above. It was unearthed in the late 1990s and some scholars believe it's a large sundial. Others think it's a wind compass. Either way it was likely used by Henry the Navigator and his students. Next on our agenda, we scaled the ramp up to the top of the wall. 

The views were spectacular at every turn. I got a little carried away and snapped a pic at every single gun placement! It was a tough choice, but I narrowed it down to just one for this post. ;)

The top of the wall also provided a closer look at the fort itself.

The building with the tiled roof and dome above is the Nossa Senhora da Graca Church.

The walk from the fortress to the lighthouse and edge of the cliffs took us at least 45 minutes, not that we minded. The views of ocean and coastline were worth every step.

If you look carefully at the next photo you'll see some brave fishermen at the top of the cliff. We actually met a young man who goes fishing here and when we asked why he'd take the risk he replied, "Because that's where the fish are!"

Here's a close up. The two men at the top are talking to a third man (in red) who's at least 20 feet below them. 

Watching him made my palms perspire which probably explains why we were quite content to amble around inside the fence and follow the paved sidewalk.

We did, however, venture past the fence and onto the cliffs to snap a few photos. How could we not? We were at the western tip of Europe and this was a once in a lifetime moment.

Returning back to the fort the views just got better and better.

Windblown but content we returned to the village of Sagres. We're amazed because every day we'll see something and we'll think "This is IT! Portugal can't get any better." And yet it does. It continues to delight and amaze. Take a look at the marina. It's breathtaking. Its Sagres.

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