Its deep connection with the sea and the culture of its people have turned Nazare into one of the most special towns in Portugal. Visitors are not only charmed by the beauty of its landscape, but also its history, which surprises them on every corner.
Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Nazare
In one of Nazare’s most emblematic neighbourhoods – Sitio da Nazare – you will find the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Nazare. Inside there is the sacred image of Our Lady of Nazare, a Black Madonna sculpted in wood. There are two other sanctuaries there where you would originally worship this image: the first sanctuary was in a small cave by the cliff, 360 feet above the beach. The second sanctuary is in the memory chapel over the cave. Its 1882 construction is linked to the Legend of Nazare featuring Dom Fuas Roupinho. Legend has it that Dom Fuas miraculously escaped death in this place after praying for Our Lady to save him from a fall into the precipice, as he knew that in a cave nearby, people worshipped the image of the Black Madonna – Our Lady of Nazare.
OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST
Bandstand The bandstand – now 120 years old – shares the square with the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Nazare. It is an excellent example of the region’s civil architecture, and it is used now and then for cultural entertainment.
The building that served as the room for King John VI and Queen Mary I during their pilgrimage to Nazare was no less important until 2003 – it served as a kindergarten in order to meet the special needs of the population.
Fort of St. Miguel Arcanjo The pirate attack on the Atlantic coast forced its construction in 1577. This fort, whose patron saint is St. Miguel Arcanjo, survived the French invasions and became a symbol of popular uprising and independence of the people of Nazare.
It is currently the perfect stage for scores of people who come together to watch the skilled surfers who dare to challenge the giant waves that form in the Nazare Canyon – a tectonic submarine canyon located along the coast, which is associated with the Nazare-Pombal fault. It is considered by many to be the greatest in Europe and it serves as a wave polariser, that is, waves can travel at a greater speed due to this geological fault getting to the coast with practically no loss of energy.