Cabo São Vicente

At the southwest tip of Europe, where the land juts starkly into the rough Atlantic, is Cabo São Vicente, called "O Fim do Mundo" ("The End of the World") by early Portuguese mariners. Legends attach themselves easily to this desolate place, which the Romans once considered sacred (they believed it was where the spirits of the light lived because with sunset the light disappeared). It takes its modern name from the martyr St. Vincent, whose relics were brought here in the 8th century; it's said that they were transported to Lisbon 400 years later in a boat guided by ravens. This is not the crowded, overdeveloped Algarve of the south coast. From here you can see the spectacular cliff tops at Murração looking onto seemingly endless deserted beaches. Vast flocks of migratory birds round Cape St. Vincent and the Sagres headlands each year with a navigational precision that would have astounded Columbus. He learned how to navigate at Prince Henry's school after the armed convoy he was traveling with was attacked by pirates off Cape St. Vincent in 1476. Sixteen years later he set sail from here to discover the Americas.


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