Over the past thee months we have become much better acquainted with our current home of Lagos, including the beaches, cafes, streets and markets. However, we have walked by churches, monuments and the old city walls on many occasions without always knowing the history and stories associated with them.
Lagos is a maritime town, and has a long and colourful history, dating back over 2000 years. Its earliest settlers were Celtic, and was later settled by Carthaginians and Romans. With the fall of the Roman Empire, Lagos became home to Visigoths and Byzantines all attracted by its strategic harbour.
The Moors arrived in the 8th Century and fortified the town with Lagos Castle. It remained under Moorish control until relatively late in the Reconquista (1429). Over the next several centuries, Lagos remained an important seaport which saw hundreds of explorers, merchants and slavers sailing in and out of its harbour.
There are reminders of Lagos’ history throughout the town, so one sunny morning we decided to take the “Historic Walking Tour” which is promoted on local guidebooks and maps.
The walk begins at Praça (Square) Gil Eanes Square which is the main square in the middle of town between the harbour and the old town. You then climb the cobbled streets past the Mercado da Avenida and the Science Centre to some beautiful viewpoints near the 15th Century Igreja de São Sebastião.
Descending to the Avenidos dos Descobrimentos the walk then follows the ornate and narrow Rua da Barroca. The wall along this street was the original seawall before the new Avenida was constructed.
You then enter Praça do Infante Dom Henrique which holds several important sites including the Mercado dos Escravos (Slave Market Museum), Igreja de Santa Maria (dating back to the 15th Century) and the 17th Century Military Depot.
Leaving the square you walk along the old city walls through the Jardim du Constituição and cross the avenida to Forte de Ponta de Bandeira. Built in the 17th Century this fort was used to defend the port, and includes a drawbridge. There are many wonderful viewpoints along the coast and of several beaches from this area.
The last portion of the walk takes you impressively through the walls beneath the São Gonçalo Turrets which are classified as a National Monument. You will enjoy the narrow and colourful streets in this part of town before winding your way back to Gil Eanes Square.
This will be our last post from Lagos as we are moving to nearby Portimão (more to come) but we will certainly spend a lot of time in Lagos which remains one of our favorite places anywhere. This walk filled in some of the historic gaps for us and we now have a much better appreciation for its cultural and natural charms.