In Lagos everything seems to invite to the beach and the simple pleasures. But there is also a history of sailors and pirates, the result of a complicity with the sea that persists in the colorful trawlers that bring the fish to the fish auction, or in the Marina where yachts from all over the world rock.
This connection to the sea reached its highest point in the 15th and 16th centuries, as it was in Lagos that Infante D. Henrique armed the caravels that reached the coast of Africa, beginning the epic of the Portuguese Discoveries, and from where Gil Eanes departed. , the navigator who demonstrated that the world did not end at Cape Bojador and that the sea was not populated by monsters. Its name was given to the square where a controversial statue of João Cutileiro evokes King D. Sebastião, who made Lagos capital of the Algarve, a privilege preserved until 1755. It was also from here that this king left for the battle of Alcácer-Quibir from where never returned, which made Portugal lose its independence to Spain, only resumed in 1640. The people, this, was always waiting for him to return on a foggy morning, a sense of hope in a savior that was etched in the Portuguese soul. and which was called the “Sebastianism”.
Although built on previous buildings, they are from this period some of the main monuments, such as the Governors Castle. Or the City Walls and the Ponta da Bandeira Fort that protected it from the invaders, especially the privateers, and which nowadays offer beautiful panoramas over the houses and the sea. It was also in Lagos, under the archways of Praça Infante D. Henrique, that Europe’s first slave market was held, a space now transformed into a cultural center with exhibitions and handicraft sales.
But there is so much to see. In a walk through the streets of the historic center we discover the charm of this secular city, noting the stonework of the doors and windows, the forged irons of the balconies and the courtyards that guarantee the freshness in summer. Or in the Church of St. Anthony, which surprises us by the richness of its interior covered with gilded carvings and tiles, added by the curiosity that the image of the saint named after him has the rank of lieutenant general, promotion that this temple has served. of the infantry regiment chapel. Next door, the Municipal Museum has interesting nuclei of archeology and sacred art.
And we can’t help but delight in its cuisine. Fish and shellfish are the main ingredients of various delicacies: from appetizers with clams, bedbugs, roe or octopus, soups and breadsticks, or specialties such as brined mackerel and stuffed squid. The sweets are another highlight, especially the dom-rodrigos, recipe of the nuns of the Convent of Nossa Senhora do Carmo.
From the long Avenida dos Descobrimentos we appreciate the profile of the city and the marina full of life and excitement. This road leads us to the sea and beaches, which are among the most beautiful in the Algarve, so often distinguished by international entities and magazines. To the east is Meia Praia, a long beach about five kilometers that ends at Ria do Alvor. On the other side are smaller sand-washed beaches, to which the erosion-carved cliffs add stunning beauty. These are the beaches of Batata, Pinhão, Dona Ana and Camilo, with access from the city center. Ahead of Ponta da Piedade, the region’s ex-libris, is an impressive rock formation with jagged shapes and excavated caves that can be fully appreciated on a boat trip. Canavial, Porto de Mós and Praia da Luz complete this offer, which still includes many hard-to-reach sand shells, some only reachable by sea. They are small paradises waiting to be discovered.