September 22, 2010

Cabo da Roca Cape Roca


Cabo da Roca, or Cape Roca, once known as the "Rock of Lisbon," is about 16km (10 miles) from Sintra, and is a must-see if you are in Sintra. It can also be easily reached from the resort of Cascais.

Cabo da Roca is not only the westernmost point in Portugal, but in Europe. It is the most visited spot in the Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais, a 14.5 hectare park that includes the village of Azenhas do Mar, spectacularly nestled into a cliff.



Cabo da Roca towers almost 150m above the sea, which is usually very rough. The formidable cape is regularly buffeted by gales. In the sixteenth century it sported a fortress that served for Portugal’s maritime defense. Some inconspicuous ruins remain, but the main building there now is a lighthouse, also quite old, dating from the late 18th century.

The weather conditions are indeed extreme. As you can see in the photo of the crucifix-topped commemorative plinth that I am standing beside in the first photo, the wind will rip off any headgear that isn’t gripped onto tight.



It is a miracle that anything can grow in such extreme weather conditions. However, it is overrun with the very hardy South African sour fig, or ice plant, a succulent creeper introduced to the region several years ago that has completely taken over.


Before going to Cabo da Roca, I had read that a certificate of having visited the cape was available to the equally hardy foreign tourist who braved it, but when I went there there was no such prize in sight.

You may be luckier!

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