It’s not often that I venture to the western end of the Algarve but, when I do, the city of Lagos is a particular favourite of mine. I knew that my daughter loved it too, from a fleeting visit about 10 years ago. What better excuse did I need for a bit of footloose and fancy free?
The old side of town is a warren of twisting and turning switchback streets, with fleeting glimpses of interest as you whizz around a harepin bend. Lisa commented that she was glad not to be in the driving seat, but we put our faith in my valiant other half, and eventually we found parking, way up beyond the castle walls. I had not realised that they were so extensive. Following our noses led us to an interesting wall or two of graffiti.
Truth be known, these days some of Lagos is a little bit tacky with touristy shops and restaurants- a victim of its own success and having some of the Algarve’s most inviting beaches. But I can overlook a street or two that resembles Albufeira because this is a very engaging place. It has history and beautiful churches, and it has character in spades, if you go looking.
Peeping between the narrow streets, the spires of several churches catch the eye. I knew Santo Antonio by reputation, but was a little disappointed not to be able to share the astounding architecture and elaborately gilded wood with you. Photographs were forbidden, but I did manage to find a link. On the main square, Santa Maria was much less elaborate, but still beautiful.
Lagos has a history stretching back over 2000 years. Originally a Celtic settlement, it was colonised by the Romans (as Lacobriga), valuable to them for its fine harbour. When the Moors arrived in the 8th century, they added fortifications of castle and walls, and established trading with North Africa. Henry the Navigator made Lagos the centre of Portuguese maritime explorations in the 15th century, the caravels venturing further and further south along the west coast of Africa, hoping to find a route to India. In 1434 Gil Eanes succeeded in rounding the cape but sadly, within 10 years, the slave trade was established. Lagos has the dubious distinction of having Europe’s first slave market. Prince Henry received one fifth of the selling price of each slave, helping him to fund further expeditions.
With the death of Henry, Lagos continued to receive shipments of goods and slaves but its role was gradually eclipsed by the rising star of Lisbon. A string of forts was constructed along the coast to defend from pirates and neighbouring Spain. Among them, Ponta da Bandeira Fort, which sits so picturesquely on the headland. From 1576 to 1755, Lagos was capital of the Algarve, but the earthquake of 1755 destroyed much of the old town. Some of the castle walls remain but many of the current buildings date from 17th century.
Knowing my tendency to linger by the sea, I was allowed only the merest glimpse of the fort before being whisked away to lunch. The lure of white sangria just about did the trick. Over lunch we discussed ‘where next’ and Lisa made it a mission to find for me the landmark ‘green building’ which appears in many images of Lagos. We were, of course, permitted to dawdle by the odd shop. Ingenious use is being made of cork these days- everything from tiny purses to sandals, with jewellery and even clever fans. Eye catching balustrades and tumbles of flowers were duly noted.
Lisa was following Google maps (isn’t technology a wonderful thing?) in a haphazard sort of way. There were simply too many distractions. Crossing Praça Gil Eanes I could see just a snippet of Ribeira Bensafrim, the river that pours out into the ocean. We climbed gently and found ourselves in a square looking at a very colourful building, which proved to be the living science centre. ( Centro Ciência Viva de Lagos)
A restaurant terrace looked out onto the marina and busy river. No sign of the desired ‘green building’ but, as we retraced our steps downhill, there it was in all its glory. How had we missed it? ‘Azulejos e postais‘- Tiles and postcards, as it is now known, on Praça de Luis Camoes.
Close up the tiles were very beautiful, and the owner was delighted to discuss the restoration of his building. Mission accomplished, it remained to find our way back uphill to where we left the car. I hope you loved Lagos too, and enjoyed our ramble together.
I’m back in the UK now, so hopefully ‘normal’ service will resume, but I may be a while catching up. Thanks so much for your loyalty, and for staying with me. Once again I have a bumper bundle of walks to share, so do please find time to visit these lovely folk. And if you’d like to share a walk with me, just follow the logo. Many thanks!
Everybody should see this place once in their lifetime, so thanks, Lady Lee :
While nobody does spectacular better than Debbie :
Drake treated me to the warm glow of Autumn in a place that I love :
And Elaine took me to her pretty home patch, too :
While Jill took me to a place that I’ve long wanted to visit :
And Cadyluck Leedy took me to an area that I don’t know at all!
Liesbet has some spectacular photos, taken between house sits :
And Violet takes me waterfalling
I did think Silly Back Lane an odd place name, but then I looked again. Cheers, Jude!
But then Woolly made me sad all over again :
There’s something so distinctive about French windows and shutters. And about Tobias; style :
I’m really enjoying Carol’s ‘close to home’ series, with their wonderful details. Just look at these trees!
Becky’s cheating a little bit with this one :
But on Friday morning I was sitting right here, waiting for the ferry to the Ilha. Sunny memories :
I have a gazillion photos to sort, including those from Lumiere in Durham last night. Amazing stuff! It’s forecast a damp week so it looks like I’ll have time to spare. Whatever you get up to, I hope it’s a good week for you. Take care!