Take a trip to Cabo Sao Vicente.
Cabo Sao Vicente is the south nwestern most point of Portugal and is a rocky place with giant waves crashing in and if you have time to make a detour while you Are in lagos then it is surely worth it.
The lighthouse and the surrounding buildings at the cape has been restored recently and worth exploring too, but the main site is the amazing nature you find there.
The statue of Gil Eanes.
Gil Eanes was from Lagos and one of the most important explorers in portugese history as he was the first european to navigate past the dangorous Cape Bojador in West Africa and then paving the way for the portugese to explore the West coast of Africa.
He was a student of Henry the navigator and today you can see a statue of him just outside the old city walls of Lagos.
Located on the western side of the square where you'll find the statue of Henry the Navigator, this single storey, single roomed warehouse building was built in 1665 by order of D. Antonio de Almeida who was Governor of the Algarve. It was part of a set of support structures for the military, called the "Crown Room" where it functioned as a saddlery, warehouse and workshop. Over each of the two doors stand coats of arms belonging to the Kingdom of the Algarve and between these the shield of the Count of Avintes. It later (1992) was occupied by the Portuguese Red Cross before being turned into a museum which focuses on the Roman, medieval and Portuguese discoveries.
Before I ramble about this photo if you visit Lagos try out the following restaurants - you will by no means fail to be impressed. These are the cream from 10 years of eating out there. They are the small local places but these are the best always:
-Sol Amigo restaurant on the sea front near Marina end of Avenida for their amazing steaks.
-The fish at the restaurant between Lagos and Odeaxere on the right hand side - simply awesome
- The grilled chicken at the small churasqueira in Odiaxere - best in the Algarve without question
- The stuffed peppers at the restaurant on the right hand side as you travel through Portelas
- The sardines on the dockside in Portimao
This picture is of the main square in Lagos looking at the council building there. This is the kind of architecture that I see is so beautiful. In Lagos if you walk through the back streets you will see many original buildings of this style which have these wonderful large windows and wooden shutters on the inside.
They usually have a two tone paint job which is traditionally white with a blue border (blue supposedly to keep away the flies rumour says), but in this case we see some gentle pale colours which I think are wonderful. The sad thing is that if you walk past this building out onto the "Avenida" (main road along harbour front), you will see over the other side of the harbour that they have been building very heavily and the apartments are horrendous. They ruin what was a beautiful natural habitat with great contours.
The problem is that there was a 10 year building restriction set to stop gluttonous poor quality and ugly buildings. Somehow even though this should still have been in place, there have been builders who have been allowed to continue. I am suspicious as it is widely rumoured that the authorities are corrupt.
It would appear that the Portuguese in the Western Algarve are also falling fowl of the same ugly tourist developments that plague much of the eastern algarve areas.
No problem with development at all, but come on guys, plan a little better. If you do, you'll attract many more tourists and they will be the kind that will spend more money.
I heard recently that a very prestigious hotel group wanted to build a top quality hotel complex behind the large bay Meia Praia in Lagos (bear in mind this area has since been raped of its beauty in many places by foul, ugly, and cheap multi storey apartment complexes). Essentially this would have provided a wonderful long term source of income for locals, and bring in people who are willing to spend plenty of money which is great for local economy. The council was apparently so slow and beurocratic in getting their act together that the hotel group was forced to pull out, and have since opted for Spain. This is truly sad.
As someone who first went there in 1987 I saw a wonderful natural environment which I always hoped would have buildings and development to compliment and enhance this. Not so in the majority of cases, although I still love the place, and love being there.
"Lagos - second square"
This is the second square in Lagos and as you can see it is not all doom and gloom. This is another example of the kind of building that should be preserved and the kind of style that the council should promote in new building developments wherever possible. This is what the tourists love and what makes Portugal what it is in many ways.
Incidentally my friend owns a building in the block which is adjacent to the row that the green building is in. It is hidden from view but its lovelly. It used to be owned by a wealthy family and inside are the most beautiful elaborate moldings on the ceilings.
As you can see though this building is missing some tiles and they haven't been replaced. The council should be encouraging the owner to get this done so that the area retains its looks.
"Lagos - Meia Praia"
Here is a picture taken from the Avenida. The Avenida is the main road along the harbour front. It runs to your left from this photo along past the fort here and to the main road out of Lagos. To your right from this photo the cliffs start and the Avenida curls up and round Lagos out to the old coastal road towards Sagres.
Behind this fort you can see the stone pier that is the starboard entrance to the harbour and the port entrance is to the right of this little piece of sand.
Meanwhile in the background is Meia Praia. I think this photo is an old one as it is much more developed now. But the beach is simply fantastic. It has won many awards and I especially love it in the winter time when the big storms roll in. If you put on your heavy weather gear and walk along it you inevitably find it deserted, and you can stop for a coffee in one of its small beach hut cafe's if one is open.
One of the worst mistakes was the council allowed a marina complex to be built not more than 30-40yards in front of the beautiful old train station building, which is now totally hidden. It used to be visible as its on the Meia Praia side of the harbour. Now you cant see it as the marina development modern bars and restaurants hide it away.
It seems that in many respects Portugal is trying to hide the simplistic aspects of its heritage in favour of the big tourist developments which it thinks the tourist wants. Instead these simple little things, like an old quaint railway station shouldn't be hidden away, they should be shown off with pride.
Portugal should be proud of its old buildings, but instead they are neglected in most cases. The only ones it seems to favour are the very old ones such as this fort and the city walls. Even these though on closer inspection are not maintained or preserved as they could be. You walk into the fort and its a fairly swift visit as there's not much to see. What they should be doing is staging the place so people spend time and can buy souvenirs in there. It seems there is a lack of imagination in doing this kind of thing.