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Arriving in Lagos town in the Algarve was not something that I planned to do with frizzy hair, shoes so wet that they squelched and my summer outfit soaked through. But, that was what nature and its un-forecast rain had in store for us. Who were we to argue! Stepping off the bus that we had taken from where we were staying in Praia Da Luz, I should have seen how it was going to pan out when I got a shoe full of water stepping into a puddle. Still, we had determination in our soul and a list of things we wanted to see. Rain, do your worst!
Lagos is an incredibly picturesque town. With its gorgeous harbour one side, ancient remains of the city walls the other, its cobbled streets make it lovely to walk round. The old town in particular is beautiful. I wanted to share with you some things that wouldn’t take a take a long time to get round, are either free or inexpensive, but also interesting to see. In my research before going out to Portugal, I had read a lot about Lagos, and how instrumental it was in a very dark part of our history. I felt the need to go and investigate this further, so we will start here.
The Slave Market
Lagos was the port that the first slaves from Africa were brought into in the 1400’s. It was the place that these poor people were brought to, as location wise, it was the first European port the boats reached. It was used as the primary market for selling the slaves, and distributing them throughout Europe. The first shipment of slaves, 235 of them, was brought over to Lagos in 1444. The museum, located in the oldest part of Lagos town, was set up to acknowledge this terrible stage in history, and to educate us on these times. The museum, although only tiny, is full of information and does have some artefacts from these times. Many of the items on display were found in an ancient slave burial pit. I found the shackles and cuffs incredibly hard to look at, but know we must never forget the atrocities of our past. The Museum also tells the story of how the slaves shaped and built Lagos, making it bigger and better than it was. I feel the museum should have been a little bigger considering the huge part Lagos had to play in the European slave trade, but it is worth a visit and just €3 to enter. The sculpture of the blindfolded man is incredibly poignant.
Igreja de Santa Maria Church
Almost opposite the slave museum, in the Henrique Square, is the gorgeous Igreja de Santa Maria Church. (Come on, you knew Id have to have a church in this post). Where the church stands has been a place of worship since 1498, but the church was rebuilt in the late1700’s after being ruined by the great earthquake of 1755.
Inside the church is no where near as elaborate and grand as so many churches, but it is beautiful in its simplicity. A statue of the 15th century patron saint of fishermen, Saint Goncalo stands on display, as does the single nave and the three side chapels. It was an incredibly beautiful feel within the church, and is used daily for quiet contemplation. I would recommend popping into this church, just for its quiet calm and simple elegance. Another, more well known church worthy of a trip to is the Igreja de Santo Antonio church, attached to the museum at the end of the main pedestrian path in Lagos. Its beautiful.
Id like to share a little story here with you too. When we walked past the church later on in the day, a homeless man was sitting at the doorway of the church. he wasn’t bothering anyone or begging, he was just sitting and watching the world go by. The mala beads that h held and had around his neck hinted at his spirituality, and his nod of greeting that he gave people hinted at his character. Looking across to him, our eyes met and he gave me a great big smile. I smiled back, and walked over to him to say hello. My lack of Portuguese language and his lack of English meant that we could only wave hello and smile at each other. The universal language of greeting. He pointed at my camera and made a mime of photo taking, so I asked if he wanted his photo taken. He smiled and nodded yes. I took his picture, he seemed to like having his photo taken. We shook hands and parted company. I would have loved to have learnt his story. It was both a humbling and human moment. It stayed with me.
The Lagos Fish market
My Mum was so excited about coming to Portugal when I asked her along. One of the first things she said was “Oh I get to try the Sardines. Sardines in Portugal are famous”! Yes, they eat a lot of sardines in Portugal. Whether fish is your thing or not, the fish market in Lagos is a bustling, thriving place that is worth walking through. Many fishermen bring their catch here to sell to the locals, and it is so popular. We went along for a visit, and it was great to see the traditional Portuguese market in full flow.
Ponta da Bandeira Fort
The fort is right on the front of the town, on the sea front. You can buy a combined ticket that gets you into the slave market and the fort, which makes it as cheap as chips to visit both. The fort, built late in the 17th century, was instrumental in the defence of Lagos. It was inside this little fort that we found the beautiful old 18th century Portuguese tiles within the tiny Saint Barbara chapel. It was stunning and I have shown it in the picture at the head of this post.
Going to the open air part at the top of the fort, you will be greeted by beautiful, far reaching views of Lagos town, and the sea. It was gorgeous up there and we enjoyed being able to see far and wide. There are also a couple of rooms showcasing Portuguese discoveries, and some seasonal exhibitions. As the fort is not large, it is well worth taking the time to visit here.
The Street Market
Cork, cork and more cork! Did you know that over 60% of the worlds cork comes from Portugal? Did you also know that you can make pretty much anything out of cork! You want a cork belt? You’ve got it. Cork place mats? They are yours. Cork glasses cases? Just name the time. There was a lot of cork being sold on a lot of stalls. You had anything from handbags, to letter openers, all made out of Portugal’s cork. All the way along the harbour front, you will find many small markets stalls selling these cork wares. We enjoyed strolling through the market as we headed to the harbour for lunch.
The Marina de Lagos
I felt I needed to pop to the marina, you know, to pick out my yacht etc……. Well I would have been spoilt for choice had I suddenly been in the market for a yacht, there were hundreds moored up in varying sizes. We decided that it would be nice to sit by the marina and have our lunch, and it was a great choice. Despite the marina being thriving, it felt very peaceful sitting there, enjoying our food. Mum and I both chose a salad, and they were amazing. You have a large variety of restaurants and bars set along here, so you can take your pick. They even have this old wooden pirate ship docked here!
Also, the marina has a huge amount of companies offering various boat trips from Lagos. I told you in my post on Luz, Things to do on a short break in Luz, The Algarve, that I had tried in vain to do the Ponta da Piedade trip to the caves. Well if like me, you feel the urge to see them, you can organise this from one of the many companies here. Prices do vary a little so worth doing some research.
The Cliff Walk
There are a few cliff walks you can do along the headland from Lagos. We almost did one from Luz to Lagos, but after my encounter with the giant centipede, I was put off (if you know, you know). the walks are beautiful though, and well worth doing if you have a few hours. The scenery throughout this whole area of the algarve is stunning and lagos has some beautiful beaches. The walks can take around 1.5-4 hours, depending on your route and walking speed.
Lagos is such a pretty town that you could easily just mooch through the streets, taking it all in. The buildings have character, the streets are quiet, the square has a water feature. Its just a lovely town to stroll around.
This concludes my inexpensive things to do while in Lagos for the day. Holidays can be so expensive, so I think its great that you can find free or very reasonable things to do. Not everyone wants to spend a small fortune while away do they.
What about you, are you likely to look for the less expensive things to do on holiday? Do you like to try to see as much of an area as you can? What sort of things do you enjoy while on a short break? You know me and my travel addiction, tell me all the details!