Apparently it had been thought that Cabo Finisterre and Cabo de São Vicente were the "endpoints of Europe", but actually it has now been decided that Cabo da Roca (at 9° 29.8' W) is the real westernmost point of the Eurasian continent. It is 15 km west of Cabo Finisterre.
On this cape is a lighthouse which is geographically significant (as the westernmost point), but not as important to ships as the lights of Cabo Carvoeiro to the north and Cabo Raso to the south. As a result, the lighthouse was long neglected; not until 1897 did it even have a Fresnel lens, and for the next 50 years it had only a 4° (small) lens. The station is staffed by a crew of three keepers.
Portugal has a long distinguished maritime history. It was Portuguese who first traveled out and around Africa, launching the European age of discovery 600 years ago. The Portuguese word for a lighthouse is farol, plural faróis. Lighthouses in Portugal are owned by the navy (Marinha de Portugal) and operated by the navy's lighthouse directorate
The lighthouse was built in 1772. It is still active; The light is 541 ft high and shows four white flashes every 18 s. The 72 ft tall square stone tower, rises from a 1-story keeper's complex. The tower is painted white with unpainted stone trim; the lantern is painted red (photo 2).
It appears to be the same in current pictures as in these that I took in 1964. I appologize that I did not get a good clear picture of the lighthouse as a whole. Photo 3 was the closest I got and that was backlit.
Site open, tower closed
On the cape there is a lighthouse completed in 1772, but modified in 1843. The square shaped tower is 22 metres high and the light from the lantern can be seen 25 nautical miles away at night. The lantern is red and the tower is painted white with grey details. The surrounding buildings are white with orange terracotta roof.
The lighthouse is still in use and it is not open to the public, but it is perfect for photos.
Most people visiting Cabo da Roca can't resist posing against the Crucifix Monument for their photo!
For our VT Euromeet 2009 group shot, we were all looking towards this landmark. (see my travelogues below for group pics)
A plaque was added to the monument in 1979 (see pic 3) by the Municipal Office of Sintra. Above the Sintra coat of Arms, are inscribed these, by now, familiar words:-
Onde a terra termina e o mar começa"...
Ponta mais ocidental do continente europeu
The English translation is -
Where the land ends and the sea begins"...
Westernmost point of the European continent.
Underneath the crest are the co-ordinates -
Latitude - 38 47' N
Longitude - 9 30' W
Altitude - 140 m
Luís Vaz de Camões (c. 1524–June 10, 1580) is considered to be Portugal's greatest poet, considered to be on a par with Shakespeare, Homer and Dante.
He is one of the figures depicted in The Monument to the Discoveries, in Lisbon (which we had visited on Friday in Belem), we'd also seen his tomb, in the Jeronimos Monastery, Lisbon, where he lays opposite Vasco da Gama.
In front of the northern facade of the Cathedral in Lisbon is a square - the Praça de Luís de Camoes, which is named after this poet.
You can enjoy the views across, and down into the Atlantic 144ft below, and the stretch of coastline above and below Cabo da Roca.
At the time of our visit, we were lucky enough to have Sunshine, blue skies and a slight breeze.
This is a popular place to visit at sunset also.
Apparently on Sunday mornings, the peace is disturbed by local motor cyclists gathering here to 'talk bikes'.
I'd like to visit one day in winter, when the seas and skies are more dramatic!
We (VTers on Euromeet 2009) visited on a day with a perfect blue sky. The red painted light fitting, terracotta tiled roof and white washed walls of the lighthouse really stood out.
It was a photogenic backdrop to many of our photos.
Some Facts n' Figures......
* The translation for Lighthouse in Portuguese is Farol - The pleural is Faróis.
* Lighthouses in Portugal are owned by the Portuguese Navy, and are operated by their Lighthouse Directorate.
* The Lighthouse of Cape Roca is one of the oldest in Portugal.
Construction began 1st September 1758, and it started operating in 1772, then was modified in 1843.
* In 1897 a fog signal was installed, to help navigation on foggy days.
*It was the first Portuguese lighthouse to be purpose built. (Previously lights were installed in buildings that had had other purposes).
*It is located 144ft above Sea level.
* The main structure is 22 metres or 72 feet High.
* The light at night can be seen 100km away (or 26 nautical miles)
* It transmits four white flashes every 18 seconds
* The lighting device has a 1000w lamp, with metallic halogen, and is moved by an automatic rotator system
* 1897 - its first Fresnel lens - (4th order) was installed
* Its 3rd order Fresnel lens has been in operation in since 1946. (There are 6 orders of Fresnel lens)
If you need to know more about Fresnel lens you can Click Here (Go on, you know you want to)!!
* The lighthouse museum (Museu dos Farois) in Cascais, has examples of the different lenses amongst its exhibits.
* 3 keepers are still stationed here - 'though the lighthouse went automatic in 1980.
* The Lighthouse isn't open to the public.
So as I said in my title - Look at the Lighthouse!
In between the Lighthouse and the cross is a stone monument.(pic 2 + 3)
This was erected by the Rotary Club of Sintra in 1980, to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the Rotary Club by Paul Harris.
Click Here for more info about The Rotary Club
Cabo da Roca is one of nearly a thousand sites around the world, chosen to display a Sri Chinmoy Peace Blossom plaque.
These are displayed in towns, cities, countries, natural wonders, historic sites and educational institutions, and include the Victoria Falls, Taj Mahal, Sydney Opera House and Mount McKinley.
A Sri Chinmoy Peace Blossom is a place dedicated to the cause of Peace and International Friendship. -
Quite appropriate then, that 27 nations were represented at the VT Euromeet - and all gathering here for a toast to our friendship.
I'm afraid that I don't know what the inscription on the plaque said (being in Portuguese), but I think it was placed here in 1999.
I couldn't remember where I knew this mans name from, until I returned home, and then realised that I'd seen a piece of artwork in Oslo- The Eternal Flame, which Sri Chinmoy had donated to the city of Oslo.
Yes, you can get yourself certified at Cabo da Roca in the Tourist Info Office!
The certificates commemorate your visit to Cabo Da Roca-The most Westerly point of Europe.
There are 2 prices - 1 for a single page certificate, or the 'De-Luxe' 2 sided folder, with certificate
I opted for the cheaper (5 Euro) version.
I entered the TI office, and was given a form to fill out with my name, the date and I think nationality.
This was then passed to a young woman, who completed the certificate in black ink calligraphy, with my name and the date of visit.
In the left hand corner is a 'wax' seal with the Municipal Hall of Sintra coat of arms on a blue and yellow ribbon .
On the back of the certificate is the Latitude/ Longtitude and Altitude statistics. also, the certificate number - mine is 038265.
Then a translation in 7 languages of ..
This is to certify that.......... has been to Cape Roca, Sintra - Portugal, the westernmost point in ontinental Europe"where the land ends and the sea begins", and where the spirit of Faith and Adventure which took the Portuguese caravels in search of new worlds for the world still reigns.
I'm afraid that the woman wasn't the happiest of characters - it all seemed a bit of a chore for her. Also, she didn't have any of the envelopes that were supposed to come with the certificate.
Luckily, my certificate fitted into the Sintra folder that Antonio and Teresa had provided us with, otherwise it wouldn't have arrived home intact.
I just visited here to buy my certificate, so didn't have a look to see which information leaflets were available, or to find out how helpful and knowledgeable the staff were, However as I mentioned in my earlier tip, the woman writing on the certificates wasn't too friendly.
The office itself is quite attractive with its azulejo tiles, I also caught sight of a fireplace, with logs that are used to heat the building during colder weather.
Outside the visitor office is a post box - (post cards are sold at the restaurant/souvenir shop) and a bus stop. There are bus services to here from Sintra and Cascais.
As well as being the Westernmost point of Europe, Capo Da Roca forms part of the Sintra Cascais Natural Park, which was established by the Portuguese Government in 1994. (Although it has been a protected site since 1981).
The area is Classified and protected by Portuguese laws as a Natural Park and, part of this area is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It covers an area of 23,280 hectares, and includes the towns of Sintra, Cascais and Colares, Cabo da Roca and Cabo Raso, Sintra Mountain, Boca do Inferno and many of the beaches that stretch along the western coastline of Sintra to the Citadel in Cascais.
In the Park are estimated to be more than 200 identified species of vertebrates:
12 of amphibians,
20 reptiles and 9 river fishes.
The area´s specific micro climate, and rich soil hosts a great diversity of plants.
The flora is essentially Mediterranean and Atlantic.
However, around Capo da Roca, the plant species Carpobrotus edulis, (a member of the Stone Plant family, Aizoaceae) has become rampant- Apparently, it was utilised as ground cover, by local residents in their gardens, but it has invaded much of the open ground now, thereby preventing the growth of other varieties of flora.
I think this is the culprit in pic 3.
Park Head Office
At: Rua Gago Coutinho 1, 2710-555 Sintra
Tel: 219 247 200
Fax: 219 247 227
Sintra Cascais Visitors Centre
At: Rua General Alves Rocadas 101F, 2710 Cascais
I'd seen this plant in Malta, but did not know its name.
It is pretty....but a deadly invader from South Africa. A succulent which can easily withstand the salty air of windblown cliffs, it swiftly envelops and destroys the indigenous fauna.
Its magenta or yellow flowers are lovely......but now I know its habits I shall be far less impressed when I see it.
Fortunately, it cannot withstand the UK frosts. But if you have it near where you live, please don't encourage it.
Walk along the cliffs of Cabo da Roca and you will see the rough sea, a lot of birds nesting in the cliffs below. The walk along the cliffs is quite short and you will not be able to walk on it below the lighthouse, instead the path will lead you there around the lighthouse and to the carpark.
For the price of 9,80 euros you can buy such a large certificate with 2 pages that fold into a map with your name on it, so you will get a proof that you had been to the westernmost point of the European Continent.
For 4,95 there is a smaller certificate with just 1 page, but the question for most tourists will be, how to pack them into a backpack and get it home safely...
On my photo you will see the larger version on the left, the cheaper version on the right !
The large Cross on top of the cliffs is where everybody is heading to in order to take some photos or to enjoy the view. This cape is considdered the westernmost place of the european continent (Ireland is an island and that is why they might be right)
Antonio & Teresa had the great idea to bring some bottles of local Sherry and Portwines, so we could taste them there in the fresh air and in the little shade that was provided by the cross - thanks a lot Antonio & Teresa !
In 1905 the american lawer Paul Harris founded the Rotary Club in Chicago and in 1980 this monument was built by the local Rotary Club from Sintra in order to commemorate the 75th aniversary of that important social club.
The lighthouse is one of the symbols for Cabo da Roca, but you cannot enter it, just take a look from a distance. I tried to walk there, but ended at a fence . I am sure this lighttower still has an important function for the ships passing ba.