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Vila do Bispo

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The mythical atmosphere surrounding Sagres and Cabo de São Vicente ( Cape St. Vincent), places dedicated to the gods for thousands of years. The unspoilt coastline with its dramatic horizons of cliffs and sea. The many menhirs that bear witness to prehistoric rites. Memories of the epic of the Discoveries and the enigmatic figure of Prince Henry the Navigator. Such are the attractions of Vila do Bispo and its municipality, a vast triangle in which the sea is a constant presence. And where nature combines with history to create a unique region that is worth taking the time to get to know.


It is agreed that the human presence in the south-western Algarve goes back at least as far as the Neolithic period and, if some shallow graves are to be trusted, may date to the Palaeolithic period, when Europe was jointed to Africa by art isthmus. The large number of menhirs - standing alone, in groups or in cromlechs - is one of the roost important vestiges of the past to be found in the Vila do Bispo area. Also of interest is the fact that their use in religions rites continued, in the Cabo de São Vicente (Cape St. Vincent) area, until the period of the Roman occupation: The religious importance of the Cape persisted in the Middle Ages with the pilgrimages that were made ever - during the centuries of Arab rule, to the burial place of São Vicente (St. Vincent. In the 15th century, the presence of Prince Henry the Navigator at Sagres and the undertaking known as the Discoveries ensured Vila do Bispo a prominent place in history. Identified by some authors as the site of the then famous Igreja don Corvos (Church of Crows) mentioned by Arabic chroniclers, Vila do Bispo has its origins in a village which was bequeathed to the Algarve Diocese at the beginning of the 16th century, grad was elevated to the status of a town in 1633. It suffered serious damage in the earthquake of 1755. Proud of its past and of its participation in the Discoveries. Vila do Bispo and its municipality are art integral part of the Algarve of the present and the future.


The coast which extends to the north and east of Cabo de São Vicente (Cape St. Vincent) is dotted with more than 20 beaches. Some are sandy coves hidden at the foot of cliffs, others broad expanses of sand that stretch away to the horizon. Each has its own particular charm. All invite you to discover them and to rediscover peace and solitude.

Murração - A small beach with a broad stretch of sand.
Mirouço - An isolated beach. Access difficult.
Mouranitos, Barriga and Cordoama - A series of broad beaches separated by cliffs but with access between them. Very quiet.
Castelejo - A beach surrounded by rock formations. Tourist facilities.
Águia & Ponta Ruiva - Stretches of sand at the foot of steep escarpments. Little visited.
Telheiro - Pleasant sheltered beach.
Belixe - Sandy beach at the font of a small bay scooped out of the cliff. Calm.
Tonel - A sheltered beach with good views of the Ponta de Sagres and Cabo de São Vicente. Support facilities.
Mareta & Baleeira - Long beaches. Tourist facilities. Starting point for discovering the underwater delights of a coast dotted with caves and hollows.
Martinhal & Rebolinhos - Long beaches surrounded by a broad bay. Scenic islets opposite the beach. Tourist facilities.
Barranco, José Vaz, Ingrina & Zavial - Sandy coves on the edge of little bays. Calm. Tourist facilities.
Figueira & Foz de Benaçoitão - Small isolated beaches.
Salema - Located in a picturesque fishing village. Pleasant beach. Tourist facilities
Boca do Rio - Stretch of sand along the bottom of a valley crossed by two gentle streams. Peaceful.
Cabanas Velhas & Almadena - Small and seldom visited beaches.
Burgau - A typical fishing port looking out on the sea. Calm and family oriented. Tourist facilities.


Parque da Floresta
A course built on hillsides and over uneven ground with views over a fishing village. With a number of different obstacles such as bunkers, lakes and rivers, it provides challenge of great diversity.


Vila do Bispo
The windmills which recorded the fact that for centuries Vila do Bispo was the breadbasket of the Algarve have disappeared. What remains, however, is the charm of whitewashed houses scattered down the slopes of a hill crowned by the looming bulk of a church tower.
Historical centre
The narrow streets which surround the main church contain many houses typical of the old Algarve, with whitewashed walls, bands of bright colour, carved stonework around doors and windows and cool shade even in the dog days.

Main Church
The facade is typical of the art of the 18th century, with a doorway surmounted by an eye window and a curved pediment. The central nave is covered with blue tiles depicting jars and dolphins, dating from 1726. It has a
"kneading trough" roof with painted boxes. On the carved gilt retable of the main altar (18th century) is a statue of Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Our Lady of the Conception) (beginning of the 16th century), patroness of the church. There are two lateral altars with carved retables and 18th century holy images. The sacristy has a great chest, various 18th century holy images and panels depicting São Pedro (St. Peter) and São Paulo (St. Paul) (16th century). Attached to the church is a museum containing some interesting works of religious art, notable among which are two Our Ladies from the 16th century.

Dates back to before the Roman conquest. The frequent presence of Prince Henry the Navigator during the first days of Atlantic navigation and the discovery of the African coast as far as the Gulf of Guinea has forever linked this picturesque fishing port with the Discoveries. Vila do Infante and its fortress were founded by Prince Henry and sacked and destroyed by Sir Francis Drake in 1587, after his attack on Cadiz, as part of a harrying coastal campaign that also wreaked havoc on Faro. On Ponta de Sagres, a giant finger of rock pointing to the ocean, stand buildings which evoke the past of a place that is part of the history of the world.

Fortress - Dating back to the 15th century, and successively rebuilt and repaired in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Adjoined be former batteries that defended the beaches of Tonel and Mareta.
Church of Nossa Senhora da Graça - Tradition has it that this church was founded by Prince Henry the Navigator. Built in the 16th century with a renaissance doorway. On the altar there is an interesting depiction of São Vicente holding a ship (17th century).
Wind Rose - A vast circle with radiating points, 143 feet in diameter, marked out in stone on the ground. Possibly dating back to the 15th century.
Cistern-tower - An interesting vestige of a group of old building. Now incorporated in a modern complex
Panoramic circuit - One of the charms of Ponta de Sagres are the broad horizons and varied views of the coast provided be the paths cut along the cliffs, from which the sea has gouged huge caverns and hollows.

Cabo de São Vicente
Its status as a sacred spot since 'Neolithic times is confirmed by the presence of important groups of menhirs and by an account written by Greek authors in the 4th century BC, describing religious ceremonies involving libations and stating that it was forbidden for humans to go there after dark, because at right it was inhabited by gods. In the period when the Phoenicians had factories in the Algarve, it is thought certain that there was a sanctuary dedicated to the solar divinities Hercules- Melcart while in Sagres there was another under the invocation of Cronos-Saturn-Baal.

For the Romans the whole area was part of the Promontorium Sacrum (from which the name Sagres is derived), the most westerly point of the world, where the setting sun made the waters of the ocean boil.
The transportation, after the Arab invasion, of São Vicente's (St. Vincent), body to the cape that was named after him turned it into a place of pilgrimage for centuries. In 1173 the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henrique gave orders for the holy remains to be brought to Lisbon. An obligatory landmark for any ship travelling to the Mediterranean. Cabo de São Vicente has been the scene of many major sea battles. In 1693 the French admiral Tourville defeated an Angler Dutch squadron. A Spanish fleet suffered a similar fate in 1780 at the hands of the English admiral Rodney. Nelson and Jarvis defeated another Spanish fleet in 1797.

Fortress - The fortress was built in the 16th century and rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries. The arms of King João III are visible on the main gate. Inside is to be found the former monastery of Hieronymite friars, founded in the 16th century, and a chapel dating back to the 14th century, built on what is traditionally said to be the site of São Vicente's grave. The curious lighthouse at the extremity of the Cape is an updated version of the beacon that the Bishop of the Algarve Fernando Coutinho had built for the safety of shipping in 1515.

A village with picturesque streets, an antique fountain and tank for washing clothes. Nearby stand abandoned windmills and a typical lime kiln.
Main Church - A country church (18th century). Carved and gilded altars. Interesting effigy of Nossa Senhora do Rosário (Our Lady of the Rosary) (17th century). Religious artefacts (16th/18th centuries).
Hermitage of São António (St. Anthony) - 18th century edifice Panoramic views from the church churchyard.
Hermitage of São Lourenço (St. Lawrence) - Built in the 16th and 17th centuries. The front of the altar is
decorated with tiles from the 18th century.

One of the places in the south-western Algarve where Prince Henry the Navigator lived, Tradition says he stayed in a house which has now lost its original character and of which all that has been identified is the lintel of a 16th century door. There are several houses with 15th and 16th century doors.
Main Church - Of the original church, founded in the 16th century all that remains are the Manueline doorways at the front and side,. the bell tower which culminates in an octagonal pyramid, the arch of the main altar and at the back, a curious corbel with a human face.
Hermitage of Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadeloupe) - According to local tradition this was a place of prayer for Prince Henry the Navigator.

Barão de São Miguel
A typical village surrounded by rolling hills covered with cistus.
Main Church - 16th century its origin. Baroque retable with effigy of the Arcanjo São Miguel (archangel Michael) (18th century).


Coastal Defence Fortresses
The strategic importance of Cabo de São Vicente (Cape St. Vincent) and the need to protect the local population from marauding pirates led to the construction of powerful fortifications all along the coast. In addition to the forts at Sagres and Cabo de São Vicente, which were key to the defence of the area, many others were built, all offering magnificent views to anyone who travels along the coastline.

Torre de Aspa - Ruins of a watchtower on a hill overlooking the sea (elevation 486 feet), and affording a panoramic vista of the coast as far as Cabo de São Vicente and Sagres.
Burgau - Fortification built in the reign of King João IV (17th century).
Ponta da Almadena - Ruins of a fort built at the command of King João III ( 16th century).
Figueira - Remains of a 16th century fortification. Access difficult.
Zavial - Ruins of a 17th century fortification. The ruins of a large masonry tower, formerly part of a watchtower, are visible at Ponte da Torre.
Barranco - Ruins of a 17th century fortress.
Baleeira - Remains of a fortification and a lookout tower
Belixe - Fortress dating from the 16th/17th centuries. Shield of arms of King Sebastião (16th century) on the entrance gate. Chapel of Santa Catarina cubic in shape, recalling the cells of Moslem ascetics.

An archeological treasure
The existence of veins of flint in the Vila do Bispo area, along with the opportunities for finding food among the rich marine fauna, as attested by the presence of shell mounds, must have been one of the reasons for the first human settlements. The most interesting testimony to the past are, however, the numerous menhirs (4.000 to 3,000 B.C). Hewn out of white limestone, usualy, conical in shape, and sometimes bearing decoration carved in relief, they are reminders of ancient cults linked to fertility and the dead. The Romans too left important remains that bear witness to the fish-salting industry and to the manufacture of amphorae for transporting the finished product.

Vila do Bispo - Marmeleiro - 3 menhirs in a row. Vale de Gato de Gina - 3 scattered rnenhirs. Pedra Escorregadia - 3 decorated menhirs and a collective grave with corridor and chamber. Casa do Frances - 6 small menhirs and a decorated slab . Amantes - many rnenhirs, which were part of 2 cromlechs. Cerro do Camacho - scattered menhirs.
Budens - Adreneira - 3 menhirs which are thought to have been part of a chromlech. Vale do Oiro - 2 menhirs. Almedeninha e Figueira - Burial sites consisting of chambers made of sandstone slabs (Bronze Age). Canieos - group of 3 menhirs. Figueira - group of 6 menhirs. Praia da Salema - remains of a Roman villa. Boca do Rio - an important Roman villa with frescoes and mosaics, bathhouse, warehouses and a fish salting and conserving factory.
Raposeira - Barreiros - two groups of menhirs. Milrei - group of 21 menhirs, some decorated. Padrao - group of 15 rnenhirs. Ingrina - burial site consisting of chambers made of limestone slabs. Ladeiras - 2 menhirs. One of them 2.5 m high.
Sagres - Praia do Martinhal - a major Roman pottery centre, with 3 kilns. On the islets opposite the beach are remains of tanks used for salting fish. Praia da Mareta - ruins of silos and medieval tile and brick kilns.


Sea on two sides, land on one. The cooking typical of Vila do Bispo reflects this dual influence in dinners of chickpeas and boiled cabbage flavoured with cured meats, in the presence of corn flour in maize-meal with sardines, in delicious fish dishes: conger risotto, baked dory or sea bream, fish stews, fried morey sandwiches. Shellfish in Vila do Bispo is always tempting, such as barnacles and whelks harvested from the rocks or the lobsters that the boats bring in at dawn. Sagres honey cake is what the Vila do Bispo area has to offer those who appreciate something sweet.


Pousada Infante
Overlooking the Altantic Ocean, the Pousada is located in the village of Sagres, in the Algarve region. This village has an important historical and maritime significance, from where, 500 years ago, Prince D. Henrique´s caravels left to look for new countries.

The Pousada features: 38 Rooms, 1 Suite, Swimming Pool, Tennis courts and Meeting rooms.

Parque da Floresta
Parque da Floresta Golf and Leisure Resort consists of 3 resorts in one complex. It is a superb all round leisure destination with a spectacular golf course and academy, outdoor heated pool, children's pool with play area, health and beauty spa, bowls, tennis and archery. At Parque da Floresta you can choose from a wide selection of village houses and villas with private pools, all equipped to the highest standard

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Vila do Bispo