The Double Soul of Nazarè

A veritable surfer’s paradise, this fishing village in Portugal is mostly known for its incredible waves, yet if also offers plenty of quiet and cosy corners

  • The Double Soul of Nazarè
  • The Double Soul of Nazarè
  • The Double Soul of Nazarè
  • The Double Soul of Nazarè
  • The Double Soul of Nazarè

About 20 kilometers north of Lisbon, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Nazaré is a famous surfer’s destination which recently made the news when a giant 35 meters high wave, instantly renamed Big Mama, broke against its coast with the Portuguese surfer Hugo Vau riding it under the incredulous eyes of his American colleague Garret McNamara.
The reason for such gigantic waves is soon explained: just below the Sítio, a 318 meter high promontory from which one can enjoy one of the most incredible panoramic views of the Portuguese coast, is Europe’s largest underwater ravine, a 5 kilometer deep and 230 kilometer long canyon. Propelled by the Atlantic winds, the waves crash against the terminal part of the canyon rising up to the promontory dominated by the unmistakable lighthouse, giving life to an unforgettable view and then moving on to Praia Do Norte, a little further north, where surfers can take advantage of their power.
A Quiet Fishing Village
Whether you are a surfing enthusiast or just into natural phenomena, the waves of Nazaré will not fail to amaze you. But this picturesque Portuguese fishing village has much more to offer. First and foremost, the old-time atmosphere, which compensates for the lack of famous historic buildings or monuments: the colorful fishing boats sitting on the long sandy beach, the shouting of the fish vendors on Saturday mornings on the seafront, the nice cafes and restaurants along Avenida Marginal.
The local fishing tradition can be explored by visiting the Casa Museu do Pescador (R. Sousa Lobo, 108), a small museum housed in a renovated traditional cottage looking like an authentic fisherman’s home.
And speaking of local traditions, among the most popular ones is that of The Seven Skirts of Nazarè: local fisherwomen still wear colorful seven-layered skirts, which according to different versions of the story stand for the days of the week, the colors of the rainbow, seven consecutive waves and several other mythological and biblical symbols related to the number seven. Yet a more practical interpretation suggests that the layers are meant to protect the women from the cold. In any case, The Seven Skirts are part of the traditional costume, along with the clogs and the black headscarf.
The Breathtaking Views
Among the not-to-be-missed experiences in Navaré is undoubtedly the ascent to Sítio, a promontory overlooking the ocean that rises 100 meters above the rest of the village. It can be reached by car, on foot along a curvy path or, much more pleasantly, with the funicular. In addition to admiring the view of the bay and the beach of Navarè, we recommend visiting the church and the small chapel on top of the promontory, Ermida da Mémoria, whose history is linked to the miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary, who apparently saved a hunter by preventing his horse from falling off the cliff.
Finally, if you wish to take a bath without risking being swept away by the giant waves, consider heading about eight kilometers south of Navarè to the pleasant beach of São Martinho do Porto, sheltered inside a closed bay, where the water it is calmer and a little less cold.

Author : The Slowear Journal


Portugal  | Nazarè  | Atlantic Ocean  | surf  | waves  | fishing village  |

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