Cabo São Vicente
Europe's most south-western corner: sacred ground from time immemorial
Cabo de São Vicente (Cape St.Vincent) near Sagres in Portugal and the Ponta de Sagres together form the south-western corner of the Algarve and the European continent. The cape consists of a steep cliff of about 69 m with almost no vegetation.
It was already sacred ground in Neolithic times, as standing menhirs within the area attest. The name of the area it is located in still recalls the Promontorium Sacrum (or Holy Promontory) of the Romans. The Ancient Greeks called it Ophiussa (Land of Serpents), inhabited by the Oestriminis. The early Christians followed that tradition and dedicated this last part of the known world to St. Vincent, giving name also to the neighbouring coast (Costa Vicentina). According to the legend the relics of the martyr Saint Vincent were transported from the Holy Land to the cape by ravens.
The impressive lighthouse which provides a guiding beam to ships passing the cape is open for visits. Although this is one of the most frequented seaways in the world, ships have to respect such distances for security reasons, that they can barely be seen on the horizon.
On the surrounding cliffs, beaten by the strength of the vast Atlantic, local fishermen risk their lives wedged on dramatic perches with the thundering sea below. Year by year some of them, as well as some imprudent tourists, meet their death here.