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Sagres is a town that is located in the south-western tip of the Algarve region, and is part of a municipality called Vila do Bispo. With a population of around two thousand this area is largely untouched by the tourism craze that has struck so much of the Algarve region.
Sagres is a quaint town with an attractive central square as well as a still active working harbor. Fishing is still an important part of the economy in Sagres, and it is no surprise to find fresh fish excellently prepared in any of the area’s restaurants. Bars, a supermarket and a few other municipal buildings complete the majority of offerings to residents of Sagres.
This small town is also the gateway to an area of protected land called the Alentejo and Costa Vicentina Natural Park. This is an area of quiet beaches, low brush and plenty of bird watching. While much of this area remains calm and unpopulated, the population can drastically swell in the summer months as surfers and peace seekers flock to the area.
The town and area around Sagres suffered greatly during the earthquake of 1755 and as a result very little of historical significance remains in any sort of recognizable condition. Compared to the remaining historical evidence located in other parts of the region, this is a great loss to Sagres. There is an old chapel called Nopssa Senhora da Graça and Rosa dos Ventos, a giant wind compass as well as the remains of a 17th century wall which surrounded a fort.
It’s not so much what Sagres lacks that stands out but rather its historical significance. Sagres is the location that Prince Henry the Navigator chose to be his home and the base for his navigation school. It is also believe that the first caravels were launched nearby and this is what heralded the Age of the Discoveries and helped define Portugal’s identity.
To the north of Sagres the remains of the Henry the Navigator Fortaleza can be seen but the walls only remain standing on one side. The fort is located on the impressive craggy headland that juts out into the ocean and it is from the tip of this point that one can see up the coast to Cabo Sao Vincente. These stunning views are definitely worth stopping by Sagres if you’re just traveling through.
Cabo Sao Vincente is home to a huge lighthouse that was built in 1846 on top of the ruins of a 16th century Franciscan convent. Originally built to safeguard one of the busiest shipping lanes it remains the second most powerful lighthouse in Europe and its two lamps can be seen as far away as sixty kilometers. In typical Portuguese geography, the lighthouse stands on top of a rugged cliff at the base of which the ocean pounds mercilessly.
What Sagres does have in common with the rest of the Algarve region are its stunning beaches. With both great sunbathing and great surfing, many travel to Sagres to visit one of the five nearby beaches.
Even though Sagres is not highly in demand as a tourist destination, it does have its share of people who are looking for the kind of peace and tranquility that Sagres has in abundance. Sagres’ homes, apartments and villas can be found at remarkable prices and they remain a viable option for those who wish to live in southern Portugal without having to deal with some of the other over commercialized and populated areas.