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Portugal’s End of the World: A Visit to Sagres

Portugal’s End of the World: A Visit to SagresWith all of this talk of the world ending today, the traveler can’t help but think of spots around the globe that were truly, at one point in time, believed to be the world’s end. In Portugal, that spot where the world supposedly fell off a cliff was Sagres. Located just 21 miles from the town of Lagos in Portugal’s Algarve region, a visit to Sagres evokes those notions of being the end of the world. If you made it through December 21st without incident, you can also explore Portugal’s ending at Sagres.

Where is Sagres?
: Sagres’ location dictated what many would believe it to be, the end of the world. The small settlement sits at Europe’s most southwesterly point. In the ancient world, it was the last explored point. For this reason the Romans called Sagres the Promontorium Sacrum, otherwise the end of the world. Sagres appreciates views of the Atlantic Ocean, making it appealing to beachcombers.

What is Sagres’ Story?
: Sagres largely drew up fame for its rich history tied to Portugal’s Age of Discoveries. It was here that Prince Henry the Navigator built a fortified town and a school of navigation. He invited all of the greats to Sagres to study how to travel and navigate to new lands including Magellan, Diaz and Vasco da Gama. The school is largely said to have pointed Portugal toward the Age of Discoveries. It is believed that Sagres was crawling with explorers. Prince Henry the Navigator was also thought to have a home at Sagres where he ultimately died in 1460.

It wasn’t all sunshine and roses in Sagres however. Many battles took place on the shores due to the settlement’s location. Perhaps the most notable attack was that of English privateer Sir Francis Drake. He captured and wrecked the fortifications around Sagres.

What is there to see in Sagres?: One of the main attractions to Sagres is not a set site, but rather the feeling it lends. Gazing at a sunset from Sagres, the traveler can imagine how many believed the sun was setting over the edge of the world from this vantage point. This feeling is best felt while experiencing the cliffs of Cabo de Sao Vicente. None other than ravens supposedly carried the relics of Saint Vincent to the cape from the Holy Lands. The saint’s remains ultimately made their way to Lisbon.

Another one of Sagres’ main attraction is the Fortaleza de Sagres. The forbidding fortress dates back to the 15th century. What visitors see today is a reconstructed site of Henry’s fortress. Home to a small museum with documents about the area’s history, visitors should also be sure to notice the huge stone compass rose, measuring 43 meters in diameter. The fortress is also known for its captivating views of the sheer cliffs beyond its walls.

Have you been to a spot in the world that was at one point believed to be the end of the world?


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Morly Cowan

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