Can you see it? Can you see that tiny white spot in the distance?
Remember when I told you about Sagres, the “holy promontory”? Well, that white spot is the lighthouse of the Cape St. Vincent (Cabo de São Vicente) as seen from Sagres.
This bit of land is, surprisingly enough, full of stories as well as history.
According to legend (and some history) Cabo de São Vicente, much like Sagres, was considered sacred in the Neolithic period. Later, ancient Greeks would come to call it Ophiussa, meaning “Land of Serpents” (although some claim that the name extended to much of today’s Portuguese territory) and Strabo mentions the existence, in the area, of a temple dedicated to Hercules.
In the 16th century this little bit of land suffered attacks from French and Dutch pirates and even from Francis Drake. Most of the buildings that existed in the area were destroyed in the 1755 earthquake, so there’s not much left from that time that would let us know how the whole thing looked back then.
Trivia tidbit of the day: Lisbon’s coat of arms has, among other things, a ship and two ravens. Legend has it that two ravens guarded the dead body of the martyr St. Vincent until it could be found by his folllowers. When his body was taken to the cape which now has his name, a shrine was built over his grave – being guarded at all times by flocks of ravens. This caused the Arab geographer Al-Idrisi to call it “church of the raven”. In 1173 Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henriques, had the body exhumed and brought by ship to Lisbon. The ship was guarded by (you guessed it!) two ravens.
Oh, before I forget, there’s a surprise on the way! 😉