There are several interesting statues erected to the famous figures of the past that are associated with the history of this town. None more controversial that the sculpture of Dom Sebastião standing in the main square in front of the Town Hall. A more recent statue commemorates the Algarve’s only Saint, São Gonçalo de Lagos, who was born in 1360 and died in 1422 in Torres Vedras. Pope Pio VI raised him to Sainthood in 1778.
On the main square ín Lagos you have a rather odd statue of a person who look a bit like someone from Mars.
It is a modern statue of the portugese child king called Sebastiao who came to power in 1568 and tried to invade Morocco and ended with a terrible defeat where he was most likely killed (he was never seens since) and Portugal ended up becoming a part of Spain for a while.
The fact that he went missing during the battle meant that there were many myths created about him and many people thought he would return to free Portugal again.
The statue they have of him today in Lagos is not pretty, but it sure stand out.
Henry the navigator is one of the most important persons in portugese history.
He actually sailed very little, but he laid the ground for the portugese explorers with his detailed work at his navigation school and portugal would never have been the huge player on the world scene if it wasen´t for him.
He was a prince who became the Leader of the "order of christ" who succeded the "knights templars" when they were forbidden in Portugal and that gave him huge power and financial ability to fulfill his project of exploring and mapping the world.
Henry was a quiet unmarried intellectual who avoided the spotlight when he lived, but today he is rightly celebrated as one of the biggest heroes in Portugese history and you can see his statue in Lagos, where most of his expeditions started from.
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.
One of the most formidable milestones in the quest for a sea passage to the Orient was Cape Bojador, a headland on the bulge of Africa that struck terror in the hearts of medieval seafarers. It was an awesome promontory because of the myths and legend surrounding it, and because of the very real and treacherous winds and currents that made it difficult for sailing ships of the day to both round it and return.
The first European captain to accomplish this feat was Gil Eanes, Lagos' most famous son. He did so in 1495 at the behest of Henry the Navigator after many other sailors had failed.
Both Prince Henry and Gil Eanes are justly commemorated with statues. Prince Henry’s statue presides over the Praca da Republica while Gil Eanes’s statue is in front of the town walls a little farther along to the west. Lagos also has a third statue, one of the boy-king, Sebastiao, who precipitated the demise of the Aviz dynasty in the 16th century by sailing from Lagos to a disastrous defeat in Morocco.
Just before they set sail, Sebastian, then aged 21, is said to have given a final pep-talk to his troops from a small Manueline-style window, which you can see, fairly high up, in a corner of the town walls just to the left of Henry's statue.
Built against a section of the city wall overlooking the square where you'll find the statue of Henry the Navigator, this house was built in 1728. It was refurbished in 1737, the date on the facade and was damaged during the 1755 earthquake. The present house was then rebuilt on the ruins in the 19th century and was turned into the Customs House in 1820 after moving here from the second floor of the nearby Slave Market building. Today the building is attached to the Hospital 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.
Lagos became important during the 15th century period of Portuguese exploration under King Joao I as he assembled his fleet in the harbour before setting sail for the siege and conquest of the city of Ceuta in 1415. This then opened up the Arabian world to medieval Europe in the period known as the Age of Discovery. Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460), third son of King João I, lived most of the time in Lagos. From here he directed expeditions to Morocco and to the western coast of Africa with caravels, lateen-rigged ships with excellent seafaring capabilities. Lagos was also the home port for Gil Eanes who was the first to sail beyond Cape Bojador in 1434, then considered the end of the world. This was a breakthrough in the Portuguese exploration of Africa. Lagos was at least as important during the Age of Discovery as Cape Canaveral was during the early years of space exploration.
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