This is one of the most important areas in the Algarve in terms of its exceptionally rich heritage (ranging from the fortress to ancient menhirs). Its significance to world history is tremendous, testified by a wealth of historical events, stories and legends.
When referring to the splendour of Sagres, a vast range of analogies are evoked, such as Prince Henry the Navigator, the ‘sacred’ promontory, the Age of the Discoveries and the Caravels that made these discoveries possible. The breathtaking landscape has always inspired human beings, and there are endless of accounts of mystical bonds (religious or esoteric) to this area.
The Fortress The origins of this fortress go back to the 15th Century and it is listed as a national monument. The complex includes a fortress, a turret, and a compass rose (this enormous compass made of pebbles set into the ground and measuring 43 metres in diameter, is surely the most mystical and esoteric symbol found within the fortress, generating much controversy and intrigue). Inside the fortress, one can also find the sun dial, the stone standard (padrão), the
water tower, cannons, ruins of the walls built by Prince Henry, an information centre, and the church of Our Lady of Grace which was built over the ruins of the primitive church of Santa Maria, founded by Prince Henry the Navigator.
The landscape is fabulous, with cliffs over 80 metres high in some places. This is an location to stop for contemplation that mustn’t be missed.
This was the strategic location from where Prince Henry the Navigator planned his voyages of discovery and which had hitherto always attracted pagan worshippers.
The Lighthouse of Cape St. Vincent
You can watch one of the most beautiful sunsets in the country from this magical place, which lights up the way of passing ships from the westernmost point of Europe.
Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe
According to legend, Prince Henry the Navigator would pray in this chapel, asking God to illuminate the path for his navigators out at sea.
Built in the Romanesque-Gothic style, the chapel is thought to date back to the 13th Century and may even have been built by the Templar knights. This spot is worth visiting to discover its many secrets.
The Fortress of Santo António do Beliche was originally built in the 16th Century and was rebuilt in 1632. At the entrance, one can see the coat of arms of the young King Sebastian. Inside the fortress, one can find the chapel of Saint Catherine, with its cubic shape, inspired by Arab Morabouts, which were cells for ascetics. A staircase descends down to sea level to one of the best spots for fishing in the region.
Torre da Aspa
Located at 157 metres above sea level, this is the highest point on the Algarve coast. It is close to Castelejo beach and can be identified by its geodesic marker. A tower or watchtower once stood on this site, built to control pirate attacks. The fabulous view of the coast extends all the way to Cape St. Vincent.
The Roman village at Budens
Upon entering the ancient Roman village of Búdea, we are immediately transported back in time. Here we find picturesque streets, tanks for washing clothes, limestone kilns and the ruins of windmills. Budens also has three religious buildings worth visiting. The parish church in a rustic 18th Century style contains the 17th century image of Our Lady of the Rosary, the 17th century Chapel of São Lourenço has 17th century painted tiles and the Chapel of Santo António, also from the 17th Century but with clear Moorish influences, offers a stunning vista to visitors. In the surrounding area there are even more treasures, such as Bronze Age burial stones and the remains of a Roman villa and fish preserving factory.
Boca do Rio
There was once a settlement on this site, dedicated to fishing and salting fish. The Roman ruins can still be seen as well as the wells and Moslem irrigation systems which tapped into the fresh water found at the meeting of the Budens and Vale de Barão streams.
The Fortress of São Luís de Almádena This is one of the most interesting fortresses found in the region, dating back to 1633. Inside, the remains of the ancient chapel dedicated to São Luís, can still be found.