Cape ST Vincent
Cabo de São Vicente ( Cape St. Vincent ) is an obligatory landmark to any ship travelling to
the Mediterranean. Here many major sea battles were fought just in front of its fortress.
The Cape takes its name from a Spanish priest martyred at the beginning of the 4th century.
According to legend, his remains were brought or washed ashore on Promontorium Sacrum, the
Sacred Cape, as it was known in ancient times.Inside the fortress a chapel can be found,
built on what is traditionally said to be the site of St. Vincent's grave. The original
temple, perhaps on the site of the Forte de Beliche, was watched over by 10 ravens
which never left it. During the reign of Afonso Henriques (1139 - 85 ), Vincent's
remains were exhumed and taken by ship for reburial in Lisbon to protect them from
desecration by the Muslims. Legend has it that the raven kept constant vigil from
the rigging of the ship all the way. Because of this, the raven is still part of the
insignia of both the city of Lisbon and of Cape St Vincent's local seat of
administration, Vila do Bispo.
Cape St Vincent lighthouse was built on the site of a 16th-century Franciscan
convent in 1846. It was electrified in 1906, and is situated at the end of
the 6 km road from Sagres. The two 1,000-watt lamps magnified by concentric
rows of prisms throw a 10 foot tall beam 60 km out to sea making it the second
most powerful lighthouse in Europe. It keeps vigil over one of the world's
busiest shipping lanes. All shipping from and through the Mediterranean to
the west coast of Europe and most of the eastern seaboard of North America
passes this way.