The SW coast of Portugal (which includes a bit of the Algarve) is home to several examples of what I can only describe as nature’s raw beauty. But there’s more to the area than just sun, sea and sand.
The photo above was taken at a small peninsula called Ponta da Atalaia, in Aljezur.
On this same spot there used to be a ribat, built by the sufi master Ibn Qasî around 1130 and later abandoned around 1151.
A ribat was a kind of convent-fortress, linked with retreat and prayer, but also with the military defense of Islam.
This ribat in particular was called ribat al-Rihana (nothing to do with the
singer performer from Barbados). Rihana was the Arab word for the plant known as myrtle. The word in Portuguese came to be arrifana, not connected to the plant, but as a toponym found pretty much all over the country.
There aren’t many archaeological remains left today, but what I find really fascinating about the place is imagining what it would have been like to live here for at least a few months or years, like they did. I mean, it’s so close to the edge of the cliff… here, let me show you:
As is common of such places this is also a quite windy area. Still, there are a few
crazy adventurous fishermen who like to stand there to fish – not on top of the cliff but in any small spot they can reach in the middle of it! If you happen to be anywhere on the SW coast of the country Ponta da Atalaia is well worth a visit, even if only to take in the amazing views.
Source (historical info): http://www.igespar.pt/media/uploads/revistaportuguesadearqueologia/7_1/19.pdf