Vila do Bispo location and access
Getting to Vila do Bispo
Vila do Bispo is situated several miles inland in the natural park Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, one of the largest areas of protected landscape in Portugal. The reserve extends along the entire western coast of the Algarve, the Costa Vicentina, to the city of Sines, in the neighbouring region of the Alentejo.
Vila do Bispo is the final stop in the west for the EN125, the main road in the Algarve, which connects Vila Real de Santo António in the east to the west of the region. The A22 motorway ends north of Lagos and from this point it is a drive of 27 kilometres to Vila do Bispo. Public transport links both rail and bus terminate at Lagos.
Vila do Bispo sports and leisure
What to do in Vila do Bispo
Near Vila do Bispo there are many beaches, each with their own special characteristics. The beaches on the south coast are extensive and less exposed to winds coming from the west. On the beaches of the western coast, nature is a bit wilder.
The Costa Vicentina is a perfect place for surfers from all over the world to enjoy the fierce Atlantic waves. In Sagres and the immediate vicinity you will find surf schools for both novices and advanced surfers. Paragliding pilots venture up the cliffs to start their flight.
The region between the Ponta de Sagres and Cabo de São Vicente, the Reserva Biogenética de Sagres is a unique ecosystem and an attraction for birdwatchers from around the world. Every year in October, the Festival Mundial de Observação de Aves, a bird watching festival takes place here. As part of this event experts lead guided walks who explain the avifauna in an interesting and educational way.
All of the nature reserve is ideal for walking and hiking. The Torre de Aspa, with an altitude of 156 metres, is the highest point on the Algarve coast and from here you get an outstanding panoramic view of the coastal cliffs and the vast turbulent sea.
Surroundings of Vila do Bispo
The suroundings of Vila do Bispo: Sagres and Cabo de São Vicente
Southwest of Sagres, on the Ponta de Sagres, a steep and rocky headland of one kilometre length and of 300 meters width, is the fortress Fortaleza de Sagres, classified as a national monument of historical importance. It is presumed that the legendary “School of Navigators” of Prince Henry was located here.
In the fishing port, situated on the sheltered east side of Sagres, the fishermen auction their catch. This auction is said to be one of the best in Europe possibly even the world. The auctions are held Monday to Friday, from 15 h.
One of the biggest attractions for visitors to the Algarve is undoubtedly the Cabo de São Vicente (Cape St. Vincent) near Sagres. The arid landscape of the plateau, where the cliff is about 69 meters high, is characterized by the absence of trees and has just sparse vegetation. The Lighthouse at Cape St. Vincent is the brightest in Europe reaching a distance with its light lantern of 90 kilometres. Unless there are untoward circumstances, the lighthouse open its doors to visitors on Wednesdays between 14h and 17h. When you see this infinite ocean and watch the turbulent waves crashing against the cliffs you can understand ancient civilisations considered this place the end of the world (finis terrae).
History of Vila do Bispo
The history of Vila do Bispo traces back to prehistoric times
In the region of Vila do Bispo and Raposeira there are traces of prehistoric human population - Neolithic standing stones, about 5,000 years B.C.. A trail, Roteiro Megalítico, near the road between Sagres and Vila do Bispo leads through "Montes dos Amantes", an area where these menhirs can be found.
The name “Sagres” is derived from the adjective sacred: In antiquity, the Ponta de Sagres was designated Promontorium Sacrum and apparently, this uninhabited area, which was seen as the end of the world was essentially of ritual significance.
For a long time it was thought that the name "Vila do Bispo" came from an historic endowment: In 1515, King Manuel I offered the village of Santa Maria do Cabo to the Bishop of Silves, D. Fernando Coutinho. More recent research, however, suggests that from the 14th Century there were two places in this area - the village of Santa Maria do Cabo and also the Aldeia do Bispo, the latter would have been owned by the Bishop. After this endowment, the two villages were united and continued to exist together under the name "Aldeia do Bispo." In 1662, this village was elevated to town status, giving the town its current name of Vila do Bispo.
Unfortunately, the village of Santa Maria do Cabo disappeared without trace. According to historians, the town was razed by the army of Francis Drake.
Municipality of Vila do Bispo
The municipality has an area of 179 km2 and 5258 inhabitants. The parishes of Barão de São Miguel, Budens, Raposeira, Sagres and Vila do Bispo all form part of it.