December 29, 2009

Cabo da Roca

Cabo da Roca, in the Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais, is the westernmost point of the European continent. I was there in October. There is a picturesque red lighthouse, a stone pillar with a plaque about Cabo da Roca on its side and a crucifix on top, and a stunning view of the rocky coast.

However, the most memorable feature of Cabo da Roca is probably its winds. The hour and a half I spent there was a battle against the blustery cold wind that blasted this very exposed outcrop of land. In the photo of me by the Cabo da Roca monument, what looks like a salute is a desperate attempt to keep my cap on.

Cabo da Roca.

Another more pleasantly memorable feature is the succulent Carpobrotus edulis plant that, besides grass, grow all over the sandy soil, tenaciously maintaining a hold.

Cabo da Roca is about 40 km west of Lisbon and 20 km west of Sintra, making it a very easy day trip by bus out of either place.

Hotels in Portugal -
Budget Hotels - Portugal
Budget Hotels - Spain
Hotels in Portugal - Agoda

December 20, 2009

Torre de Belem Cannon

Belem Tower was originally built as a fortification to protect the Lisbon reaches of the River Tagus, though there is no evidence that its cannon were ever fired in anger.

Torre de Belem Cannon

The early 16th century tower served more as a prison than a naval gun emplacement and held over 100 political prisoners during the time of Spain's rule over Portugal.

Torre de Belem Cannon

Belem Tower's other non-military uses included seving as a customs post, telegraph station, a lighthouse and a clinic.