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Cabo de Sao Vicente (Portugal)

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Cabo de Sao Vicente / Algarve / Portugal

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      01.12.2009 23:19
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      most south-westerly point of Europe

      Cabo de Sao Vincente (Cape St Vincent) is the southwesternmost point in Portugal and as close to the very end of the continental landmass of Eurasia as you get (though technically,

      The cliffs rise nearly vertically from the Atlantic to a height of 75 meters and are a major landmark for ships travelling into the Mediterranean. The cape is thus topped by a lighthouse, marking one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. The lighthouse is among the most powerful in Europe and its light can be seen from over 50 km away.

      The headland was treated as a mystical and mythical land by the Romans and they believed that the huge sun sank hissing into the waters beyond it; even before that, ancient inhabitants felt the vibe of the place and left menhirs behind.

      The current name of the cape connects it to St Vincent, martyred in 304. A ship carrying his body apparently came ashore here, accompanied by two ravens. The body was later removed to Lisbon, but the name remains. St Vincent is, appropriately, a patron saint of seafarers.

      Nowadays it's a windswept, slightly eerie place and apparently a site of a great wealth of wildlife, from marine animals to birds and unique flora.

      People come to the Cape to stand on the edge of Europe, though the lighthouse is, sadly, closed to the public, and fenced off - you can't really touch the very edge of the world, though you can get near. The cliffs slightly further down, facing west to the Atlantic, provide wonderful vantage point and fantastic views: you can see America if you look hard enough, but even without straining, you can see rocky faces of the western coast of Portugal.

      The tourist infrastructure isn't particularly developed at the cape - and a good thing it is, too. No visitor's centre and no professionally made, serious-looking souvenirs. Instead there are stalls selling Portuguese (and not only) products: woollens, leather cowboy hats, fig cake, nuts and other local foodstuffs.

      There is also a couple of food concessions, amongst them, uniquely, a German Bratwurst stall in a portacabin. The portacabin is adorned with an anthropomorphic bratwurst (it winks!!) and a headline: Letze Bartwurst vor Amerika (The Last Bratwurst before America). It's all rather surreal, but because of this it doesn't grate like a McDonalds would. Plus, the sausages, served in a roll, are very good (apparently won several German awards) - the ones spiced with caraway are particularly recommended.

      With the Bratwurst comes a colourful certificate, stating (in three languages) that the recipient visited the most south-westerly point of Europe.

      To get to the Cape, take a coastal road from Sagres (it's a nice extension of a trip to Sagres fortress, especially as you can see Sao Vincente from the Sagres promontory).

      All in all, seemingly one of those places to tick on the agenda, but a memorable one and worth visiting. If you are to pick Sao Vincente or Sagres promontory, go to Sagres which is better, but both can be visited as part of one day trip.

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      The Cape is the most south-western point of the European mainland. Aside from the lighthouse one can purchase Portugese knick-knacks and enjoy a bratwurst from the German Bratwurst stall.