If you’re looking at visiting Sagres, then be sure to take a coat with you as it can get very windy! Located on the southwestern point of Europe, Sagres is in the municipality of Vila do Bispo. Popularly known for its production of the local beer Sagres, also for its iconic landmarks and high cliffs that mark Portugal’s history.
This list will guide you on what to see and where to visit when exploring Sagres.
Fortaleza de Sagres (Sagres Fortress)
The Fortaleza de Sagres was built because of orders from Henry the Navigator(Infante D. Henrique), in what became known as the Portuguese Age of Discoveries. Henry was the first European to discover the Azores and large parts of the African coastline. You will have amazing panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and of the Cape of São Vicente. There is a small entrance fee for both children and adults, and the average time spent walking around the fortress is about 30 minutes. Be sure to include it as part of your tour of Sagres.
Also within the walls of the fortress are constructions such as the cistern tower, former barracks, a windbreak wall and the old parish church of Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Graça (church of our Lady of Grace). The front of the altar displays a panel of Renaissance tiles with scenes linked to the Eucharist, and where you can admire trees, birds, elephants and antelopes. On the side there are statues of São Vicente (patron Saint of Lisbon and Valencia) and São Francisco (patron Saint of animals and ecology).
One of the major attractions for visitors is the huge Rosa dos Ventos (Wind Rose) compass-rose in paving measuring 43 metres in diameter. This was to be a navigational tool or to even be mystical. Due to its strategic position on the Portuguese coast, the fortress has a long history, including the attack by the corsair, Francis Drake in 1587.
Farol do Cabo de Sao Vincente
The construction of a tower began in 1515 whilst emitting a light. This may have been from an occasional bonfire to serve as a guide to the navigators, highlighting the importance it had. In 1587, the privateer Francis Drake destroyed the tower in place by 1606 by D. Filipe II, leaving the light off during this whole time. In 1846, after undergoing several reconstruction attempts, the lighthouse was re-built from an order from D. Maria II. The light had sixteen Argand lamps with parabolic reflectors operating in oil using a clockwork mechanism to rotate it.
In 1908 the lighthouse tower had a raise of 5.70 meters. It is currently the largest in Portuguese lighthouses and one of the top ten largest ones in the world. The light source was a 5-level constant-level lamp, and a few years later it started using incandescence by oil vapor.
In 1914 there was a fog signal and in 1926 the lighthouse was electrified with the aid of generator sets. Aeromaritime panels were put in place in 1947 and within a year a connection with the public distribution grid was made. A beacon radio was installed in 1949 and then deactivated in 2001 as it no longer has any interest in navigation.
Fort of Santo António de Belixe
The Fort of Santo António de Belixe, also known as the Fortress of Beliche is on Cape St Vincent. Initially, a safe haven for protection to the tuna fishermen attacked by pirates and privateers. The construction of this fort is unknown, but it was in existence in the 16th century. During the attack from corsair Francis Drake in 1587, the fortress was badly hit in the attack and again in 1755 by the earthquake. Restoration began for tourism purposes in the 20th century. One of the most noteworthy part of this fortress is the cube-shape of the chapel, which was a dedication to Saint Catherine (patron of philosophers and scholars).
Quirky shops in Sagres
The Portuguese are very artistic in their culture and this shows in their building displays too. Artisan shops are across Sagres. One is located between Fortaleza do Belixe and Fortaleza do Sagres. You won’t miss this colourful, ceramic plated building! This is definitely an Instagram or Facebook moment! A perfect opportunity to have an artisan image as your backdrop whilst visiting Sagres.
Best viewing points in Sagres
You’re guaranteed to get amazing views from most places in Sagres. Two specific places that stand out are Fortaleza de Sagres and Farol do Cabo de Sao Vicente. From the former location you will be able to see the stretch of Praia do Tonel (beach of Tonel) where you are guaranteed to spot a few surfers riding the challenging waves that the Atlantic Ocean throws at them. At the latter location, you will be able to get views of the lighthouse from either side. There are also daring cliff edge views making your visit to Sagres all the more worth it.
In conclusion, this list of the best things to do in Sagres, Portugal is definitely not an exhausted one! There are a few other things to do and places to visit in Sagres. This entices visitors to keep returning to this popular destination in order to explore them all.
Seagull Circuit offer great tours to locations like Sagres, allowing you to explore the beautiful scenery and historic monuments of Sagres.