“Aqui, onde a terra se acaba e o mar começa…Here, where the land ends and the seas begins… ~ Luís de Camões
The westernmost point in mainland Europe, Cabo da Roca was once thought to be the end of the world. A rugged coastline with 100 metre high cliffs plunging into the rough Atlantic Ocean, until the 14th century most of Europe believed that once you lost sight of the coastline, you would fall off the earth and into the mouth of a giant monster.
The Romans called it Promontorium Magnum, or Great Cape; from the 16th to 19th centuries, it was called the Rock of Lisbon.
A fort is known to have existed here in the 16th century to protect Lisbon along the coastline.
The lighthouse that remains on the site today was built in 1842, replacing the original from 1772. Its 1000 watt lightbulb can be seen approximately 46 kilometers from the shore, providing an important warning to the many incoming cargo ships.
The exact location of the site is engraved on the monument: 38°47’N 9°30’W. The monument also has the words of the famous Portuguese poet Luís de Camões, Portugal’s Shakespeare, who lived from 1524-1580.
It was nice to see that even at the edge of the world, flowers still bloom and life still grows. The Sour Fig is invasive to the cape, having escaped from a private garden 30 years ago, the non-native species covers nearly all of the ground.
I stayed just until the sun was beginning to set – being at the edge of the world after dark wasn’t so appealing to me, even if that theory is a couple hundred years old by now. But the colours were so warm and vibrant! You could also see large cargo ships way off in the distance. I hope for their sake that they don’t lose sight of the shore! 😉