Lagos, Portugal

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Vista Centro Historico de Lagos.jpg
View of the historic centre of Lagos
Coat of arms
Coordinates: 37°6′10″N8°40′22″W / 37.10278°N 8.67278°W / 37.10278; -8.67278 Coordinates: 37°6′10″N8°40′22″W / 37.10278°N 8.67278°W / 37.10278; -8.67278
CountryFlag of Portugal.svg  Portugal
Region Algarve
Intermunic. comm. Algarve
District Faro
Parishes 4
   President Joaquina Matos (PS)
  Total212.99 km2 (82.24 sq mi)
  Density150/km2 (380/sq mi)
Time zone WET/WEST (UTC+0/+1)
Postal code
Area code282

Lagos (Portuguese pronunciation:  [ˈlaɣuʃ] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); literally "lakes"; Proto-Celtic : *Lacobriga) is a municipality at the mouth of Bensafrim River and along the Atlantic Ocean, in the Barlavento region of the Algarve, in southern Portugal. [1] The population in 2011 was 31,049, [2] in an area of 212.99 km². [3] The main town of Lagos (which includes only the parish of São Sebastião e Santa Maria) has a population of approximately 22,000. [4] Typically, these numbers increase during the summer months, with the influx of visiting tourists and seasonal residents. While the majority of the population lives along the coast and works in tourism and services, the inland region is sparsely inhabited, with the majority of the people working in agriculture and forestry.

Proto-Celtic language Ancestor of the Celtic languages

The Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the reconstructed ancestor language of all the known Celtic languages. Its lexis can be confidently reconstructed on the basis of the comparative method of historical linguistics. As Celtic is a branch of the Indo-European language family, Proto-Celtic is a descendant of the Proto-Indo-European language. According to one theory, Celtic may be closest to the Italic languages, which together form an Italo-Celtic branch. The earliest archaeological culture that may justifiably be considered as Proto-Celtic is the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture of Central Europe from the last quarter of the second millennium BC. By the Iron Age Hallstatt culture of around 800 BC, these people had become fully Celtic.

Bensafrim River is a river in Portugal.

Atlantic Ocean Ocean between Europe, Africa and the Americas

The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world's oceans, with an area of about 106,460,000 square kilometers. It covers approximately 20 percent of the Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area. It separates the "Old World" from the "New World".


Lagos is one of the most visited cities in the Algarve and Portugal, due to its variety of tourist-friendly beaches, rock formations (Ponta da Piedade), bars, restaurants and hotels, renowned for its vibrant summer nightlife and parties.[ citation needed ] Yet, Lagos is also a historic centre of the Portuguese Age of Discovery, frequent home of Henry the Navigator, historical shipyard and, at one time, centre of the European slave trade. [5] In 2012, travel website TripAdvisor, classified Lagos as the number one travel destination, on a list of "15 destinations on the rise" worldwide. [6]

Ponta da Piedade Portuguese rock formation

Ponta da Piedade is a group of rock formations along the coastline of the town of Lagos, in the Portuguese region of the Algarve. Consisting of yellow-golden clifflike rocks up to 20 meters high, they are one of the most famous touristic attractions of Portugal. Several grottos in Ponta da Piedade can be visited by boat. The location also contains a lighthouse, dating back to 1913.

TripAdvisor American travel website company

TripAdvisor, Inc. is an American travel and restaurant website company that shows hotel and restaurant reviews, accommodation bookings and other travel-related content. It also includes interactive travel forums.


A painting from the 16th century showing a caravel being provisioned in the port of Lagos depicting Africans and Europeans Lagos43 kopie.jpg
A painting from the 16th century showing a caravel being provisioned in the port of Lagos depicting Africans and Europeans
Replica of the caravel Boa Esperanca Caravela Boa Esperanca - Lagos.JPG
Replica of the caravel Boa Esperança
Lagos's slave market. Built in 1444, it was colonial Europe's first slave market Mercado de Escravos.jpg
Lagos's slave market. Built in 1444, it was colonial Europe's first slave market

Lagos is an ancient maritime town with more than 2000 years of history. The name Lagos comes from a Celtic settlement, derived from the Latin Lacobriga , the name of the settlement was established during the pre-Punic civilizations. It became an early settlement of the Carthaginians, who recruited Celtic tribesmen in their war against the Romans (the Punic Wars). Owing to its already important harbour, it was colonized by the Romans and integrated into the Roman province of Lusitania, becoming known as Lacobriga. Quintus Sertorius, a rebellious Roman general, helped by the Lusitanians of Lacobriga (who had been oppressed under Roman Generals and members of Lucius Cornelius Sulla party), successfully defeated the Roman army of Caecilius Metellus Pius probably at nearby Monte Molião.

Celtic languages Language family

The Celtic languages are a group of related languages descended from Proto-Celtic. They form a branch of the Indo-European language family. The term "Celtic" was first used to describe this language group by Edward Lhuyd in 1707, following Paul-Yves Pezron, who made the explicit link between the Celts described by classical writers and the Welsh and Breton languages.

Lacobriga human settlement in Portugal

Lacobriga was an ancient town of Celtic origin, usually identified as the predecessor of the current city of Lagos in Portugal. The nearby Archaeological Site of Monte Molião is also known as Lacobriga.

Punics people from Ancient Carthage

The Punics, also known as Carthaginians, were a people from Ancient Carthage who traced their origins to the Phoenicians. Punic is the English adjective, derived from the Latin adjective punicus to describe anything Carthaginian. Their language, Punic, was a dialect of Phoenician.

With the fall of Rome, the town of Lagos was occupied in the 6th century by the Visigoths from the Kingdom of Toledo and later by the Byzantines.

Visigoths Gothic tribe

The Visigoths were the western branches of the nomadic tribes of Germanic peoples referred to collectively as the Goths. These tribes flourished and spread throughout the late Roman Empire in Late Antiquity, or what is known as the Migration Period. The Visigoths emerged from earlier Gothic groups who had invaded the Roman Empire beginning in 376 and had defeated the Romans at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. Relations between the Romans and the Visigoths were variable, alternately warring with one another and making treaties when convenient. The Visigoths invaded Italy under Alaric I and sacked Rome in 410. After the Visigoths sacked Rome, they began settling down, first in southern Gaul and eventually in Hispania, where they founded the Visigothic Kingdom and maintained a presence from the 5th to the 8th centuries AD.

Byzantine Empire Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural and military force in Europe. "Byzantine Empire" is a term created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".

The Moors arrived in the 8th century from North Africa, renaming the settlement Zawaia (meaning lago, or lake). It became part of the much larger coastal region of al-Gharb, which eventually became known as the algarve. The Moors fortified the town with Lagos Castle and established important trade links to Northern Africa from their bases in the Iberian peninsula. In 1174, the local Wāli gave permission for the Christian peoples to construct a church dedicated to São João Baptista, which was built outside the town's walls (becoming the oldest church in the Algarve).

Moors Medieval Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta

The term "Moors" refers primarily to the Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta during the Middle Ages. The Moors initially were the indigenous Maghrebine Berbers. The name was later also applied to Arabs.

<i>Wāli</i> administrative title that was used during the Caliphate and Ottoman Empire to designate governors of administrative divisions

Wāli or vali is an administrative title that was used during the Caliphate and Ottoman Empire to designate governors of administrative divisions. It is still in use in some countries influenced by Arab or Muslim culture. The division that a Wāli governs is called Wilayah, or, in the case of Ottoman Turkey, "Vilayet".


Even as King Afonso Henriques advanced to the south, the Christian Reconquista never made it into Algarve and Alentejo, and remained under Moorish control. King Sancho I, with the support of Crusader forces used Lagos as a stepping stone to attack the fortress of Alvôr. [7] Zawaia was eventually captured by King Afonso III of Portugal in 1241, but was only taken definitively in 1249. From this period on the King began self-styling himself as the "King of Portugal and the Algarve", stressing the fact that the Algarve (which had for so long been ruled by the Moors as a foreign country) had been annexed into the dominion of the Portuguese. Lagos became an independent jurisdiction under the rule of King Peter I in 1361.

<i>Reconquista</i> Medieval Christian extended conquest of Muslim areas in the Iberian Peninsula

The Reconquista was the period in the history of the Iberian Peninsula of about 780 years between the Umayyad conquest of Hispania in 711 and the fall of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada to the expanding Christian kingdoms in 1492. The completed conquest of Granada was the context of the Spanish voyages of discovery and conquest, and the Americas—the "New World"—ushered in the era of the Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires.

Sancho I of Portugal Koncho King of Portugal

Sancho I, nicknamed "the Populator", King of Portugal was the second but only surviving legitimate son and fifth child of Afonso I of Portugal by his wife, Maud of Savoy. Sancho succeeded his father and was crowned in Coimbra when he was 31 years old on 9 December 1185. He used the title King of Silves from 1189 until he lost the territory to Almohad control in 1191.

Afonso III of Portugal King of Portugal

Afonso III, or Affonso, Alfonso or Alphonso (Portuguese-Galician) or Alphonsus (Latin), the Boulonnais, King of Portugal was the first to use the title King of Portugal and the Algarve, from 1249. He was the second son of King Afonso II of Portugal and his wife, Urraca of Castile; he succeeded his brother, King Sancho II of Portugal, who died on 4 January 1248.

King John I assembled his fleet in the harbour of Lagos, before setting sail for the siege and conquest of the city of Ceuta in 1415. This was the first step in opening the Muslim world to medieval Europe, which in fact led to the Age of Discovery with Portuguese explorers sailing across the whole world. By the 15th century, Lagos became the centre of Portuguese maritime exploration, with ships ordered south to trace the shoreline of Africa in order to find routes to India. Infante Henry the Navigator, third son of King John, lived most of the time in Lagos. From here he directed expeditions to Morocco and to the western coast of Africa with caravels, lateen-rigged ships with excellent seafaring capabilities. Lagos was also the home port for Gil Eanes who was the first to sail beyond Cape Bojador in 1434, after a failed attempt in 1433 that put him out of favour with the, then considered the end of the world. The act of rounding the Cape, much like the later rounding of the Cape of Good Hope, permitted Eanes (and the navigators that followed) to advance into the African subcontinent. When, by 1443, Lançarote (then fiscal officer of the crown) had sailed as far as Arguim and brought back 275 Africans, the Portuguese had sufficient slaves to relieve the perpetual handicap of agricultural labour. [8]

Over the following decades, news of discoveries and achievements, and ships loaded with spices and goods would flow into the port of Lagos. It was also the gateway for the first African slaves into post-medieval Europe. [9] Even before Africa was opened-up to the Portuguese, the seamen of Lagos were already enthusiastic slave-catchers. [10] From the first slave markets in Lagos (the Mercado de Escravos, which opened in 1444), many Africans were dispersed throughout Europe, bringing a considerable income to the Portuguese monarchy and merchant classes, as well as cheap labour force. [9] As the major sponsor of these expeditions, Prince Henry received one-fifth of the selling price of every slave. The demand for the indentured labour force was so high that, by 1450, profit on Mauritanian slaves was 700 percent. [11] The discovery of gold by Alfonso Gonçales also increased activities in Lagos, whose residents petitioned the Infante Henry to establish a trading company to pursue gold deposits in the region. [12] This included Juan Dias (ancestor of Bartolomeu Dias who rounded the Cape of Good Hope), Gil Eanes, Lançarote de Freitas, Estevan Alfonso and Rodrigo Alvarez, who provisioned a squadron of six caravels to travel to isle of Garças in 1444, but returned with 150 Africans. [12]

The historic centre of Lagos Centro de Lagos.png
The historic centre of Lagos

Following the death of Prince Henry, and the expansion into the Atlantic and New World, the port of Lagos continued to receive shipments of goods and slaves, but its role began to decrease. Lisbon, began to prosper, with ships returning directly from the colonies of the Azores, Madeira and Brazil, while trading houses began to relocate to the capital. But, even as the wealth arrived in Lisbon and Lagos, the ostentation was widely on display in the royal residences. [13]

King Sebastian, obsessed with his plans for a great crusade against the Kingdom of Fez, assembled a huge fleet in Lagos in 1578. [14] During this ill-fated attempt he and most of Portugal's nobility were killed in the Battle of Ksar El Kebir in Morocco, eventually causing a succession crisis, that eventually resulted in the Iberian Union.

When Portugal came under Spanish rule, the Portuguese coast became a target for the English fleet. Lagos, close to the Spanish naval base of Cádiz, was attacked by Sir Francis Drake in the late 1580s, but was defended by its inhabitants, resulting in Drakes sack of Faro. [15] But, the coast was under regular attack of other pirates and corsairs, in addition to the Spanish who bombarded the Algarve during the Portuguese Restoration War (1640–1668), which led to the construction of a string of forts all along the coast. One of them was the late-17th-century Ponta da Bandeira Fort in Lagos, which was completed between 1679 and 1690 (according to the stone inscription over the main door).

From 1576 to 1755, Lagos was a high-profile capital of the Algarve, until the old Portuguese town was destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami of 1755. Although some walls from the 16th century still remain, as well as the governor's castle, many of the buildings are from the 17th century.

Two well-known naval battles took place off Lagos, reflecting its strategic location: in the Battle of Lagos (1693) a French flotilla defeated a combined Anglo-Dutch force, while in the Battle of Lagos (1759) a British force defeated a French force.


Dona Ana Beach (Praia Dona Ana) Dona Ana beach, Lagos.jpg
Dona Ana Beach (Praia Dona Ana)
Pinhao beach Praia do Pinhao.JPG
Pinhão beach
Porto de Mos beach (Praia do Porto de Mos) is one of the most popular beaches in Lagos, along with Dona Ana and Meia Praia Praia do Porto de Mos.jpg
Porto de Mós beach (Praia do Porto de Mós) is one of the most popular beaches in Lagos, along with Dona Ana and Meia Praia

Physical geography

By its geographical position (east-northeast to west-southwest orientation) and lithological diversity, the Algarve stands out as a unique stratigraphic and morpho-tectonic region. [16] A peripheral Carboniferous unit of the Variscan orogeny, it constitutes the Mesozoic and Cenozoic sedimentary layers, deposited onto two totally distinct superimposed basins. [16] Between the Middle-Upper Triassic to Hettangian, sediments evolved from continental (fluvial red sandstone) to shallow marine over the entire region, which included instances of evaporates, tholeiite fissural magmas, lava flows, volcanic ash and pyroclasts. [16]

The area of Lagos, conforms to the Middle Miocene Lagos-Portimão formation (a band that extends along the coast from Lagos to Albufeira, abutting the Serra do Caldeirão to the north) and which corresponds to marine sedimentation over relatively stable, but a minorly deformed limestone shelf platform. [16] [17] [18] A period of calm during the intra-Miocene (of approximately 2.4 Ma) led to generalized exposure and development of karst, that influences the present day coastline. [16] [18] The conspicuous horizontal bending of this profile in the cliffs of Lagos, much like the remainder of the Lagos-Portimão formation, is formed by alternating bands of siliciclastic and calcareous lithologies. [17] The low degree of cementation in the layers causes a high degree of instability of the cliffs. [17] The littoral and cliff sands are dominated by various bivalve organisms, bryozoans, larger benthic foraminifers and Coralline algaewith minor additions of echinoids and balanids implying a shallow-water depositional system of a warm-temperate climatic regime. [17] The locality of Cerro das Mós, from where a large crocodilian ( Tomistoma schlegelii ) tooth was collected long ago, [19] has also produced some Odontoceti teeth. These may be dated from the Serravallian, which, constitute the oldest marine mammal occurrence in Algarve. [18] [20]


Climate data for Lagos, Portugal
Average high °C (°F)15
Daily mean °C (°F)11
Average low °C (°F)6
Average precipitation mm (inches)100
Mean monthly sunshine hours 1241682172103102703413102702791501242,773
Source: [21]

Ecoregions/Protected areas

Lagos has many natural interest sites, including:

Bravura Dam - Lagos, Portugal.png
The Bravura Dam, in the parish of Bensafrim


A view of Lagos and the Meia Praia beach in the background Vista de Lagos.JPG
A view of Lagos and the Meia Praia beach in the background
  • Meia Praia (Half Beach) —the most popular tourist beach, consisting of soft, white sand, Meia Praia is one of the largest open bays in Europe, resulting in calm seas, permitting conditions for many nautical sports, while cliffs provide sheltered coves from strong windy conditions;
  • Praia Solaria (Sunny Beach);
  • Praia da Batata (Potato Beach) — a small beach tucked between two small cliffs (where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean), it is known for the small music festivals that take place there during summer;
  • Praia dos Estudantes (Students' Beach);
  • Praia da Dona Ana ( Dona Ana Beach) -its areal is slightly thicker than the beaches in the surrounding area and it is surrounded by striking rock formations. At high tide the beach is split by the geomorphology of the cliffs;
  • Praia do Canavial (Canavial Beach);
  • Praia de Camilo (Camilo Beach);
  • Praia da Luz (Beach of Light) - located in the parish of Luz, the beach is bounded in the east by Rocha Negra (English: Black Rock), providing summer vactioners with a popular escape during the summer.
  • Praia da Balança- located after Praia da Boneca and Praia dos Pinheiros, it's a sandy cove enclosed by towering cliffs. [22]

Sustainable tourism

In 2012 Lagos received the QualityCoast Gold Award for its efforts to become a sustainable tourism destination. Because of this award, Lagos has been selected for inclusion in the global atlas for sustainable tourism DestiNet. [23]

Population of
(1801 - 2011)
1801 9,789    
1849 11,012+12.5%
1900 13,937+26.6%
1930 16,210+16.3%
1960 17,060+5.2%
1981 19,700+15.5%
1991 21,526+9.3%
2001 25,398+18.0%
2009 29,298+15.4%
2011 30,755+5.0%

Human geography

The municipality of Lagos is located approximately 35 kilometres (22 miles) east of the Cape St. Vincent coast, along the southern coast of the Algarve. It is surrounded along its borders by the municipalities of Vila do Bispo (to the west), Aljezur (to the northwest), Monchique (to the northeast) and Portimão (to the east).

To the north of Lagos is the road to Silves, the first capital of Algarve, Monchique (spa town/mountain), Milfontes, a coastal town and port/harbour of the city of Sines, that winds through the scenic protected landscape of the Southwest Natural Park (Costa Sudoeste Alentejana e Vicentina).

Administratively, the municipality is divided into 4 civil parishes ( freguesias ): [24]

Twin towns — Sister cities

Lagos is twinned with:

Lagos 2 copy.jpg
Panoramic view of Lagos's Avenida dos Descobrimentos


Lagos's marina Lagos's Marina.jpg
Lagos's marina

Lagos' economy, like many coastal towns in Portugal, has always been closely linked to the sea, and fishing has been an important activity since very ancient times. Since 1960, the city has embraced tourism, which has become its most important economic activity. It has beautiful beaches, good climate, the sea, a scenic coastline, and historical patrimony.

The Marina de Lagos has 460 berths and has become an important centre for long-distance cruisers, and it is also known for its modern drawbridge.

Lagos also has numerous cultural and night-life entertainment venues.

Lagos Station is the western terminus of the railway line from Vila Real de Santo António (via Tavira and Faro). The passenger train service is operated by Comboios de Portugal (CP). Connections are available at Tunes for trains to Lisbon and Porto.


The obelisk-like Menir of Cabeca do Rochedo, representing the Neolithic history of the settlements of Lagos Menir da Cabeca do Rochedo - Lagos - 10-05-2018.jpg
The obelisk-like Menir of Cabeça do Rochedo, representing the Neolithic history of the settlements of Lagos
The walls of the old city of Lagos, that extended around the old quarter encircling the central part of Santa Maria and Sao Sebastiao Muralha de Lagos.jpg
The walls of the old city of Lagos, that extended around the old quarter encircling the central part of Santa Maria and São Sebastião
Aerial view of Lagos Lagos aeria.jpg
Aerial view of Lagos
The two towers of Santo Antonio's Church, which also has a museum inside Igreja de Santo Antonio - Lagos.JPG
The two towers of Santo António's Church, which also has a museum inside
Train at lagos station Portugal Train at lagos station Portugal.jpg
Train at lagos station Portugal






Many local traditions are celebrated in the municipality and range from gastronomy to traditional handicrafts.

In gastronomy, there are the local specialties: Dom rodrigos and morgados cookies based on local products, such as almonds, figs and eggs. Lagos is also a wine-producing region and is famous for its moscatel wine, and also for a strong alcoholic spirit, the aguardente de medronho, made of berries of strawberry tree.

Notable citizens

See also

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  8. CUP (1970), p.190
  9. 1 2 H. Morse Stephens (1891), p.149
  10. David Birmingham (2003), p. 27
  11. David Birmingham (2003), p. 29
  12. 1 2 Robert Kerr (1844), p.189
  13. David Birmingham (2003), p. 30
  14. H. Morse Stephens (1891), p.253
  15. CUP (1970), p.275
  16. 1 2 3 4 5 M. Cachão, P. Terrinha, A. Santos (2005), p.179-180
  17. 1 2 3 4 Markus H. Forst, Thomas C. Brachert and Joiio Pais (2000), p.290
  18. 1 2 3 J. Pais et al. (2000), p.279
  19. M.T. Antunes et al. (1981), p.9-38
  20. M. Estevens (2000), p.271-280
  21. Archived from the original on 2017-02-02.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. "Watersports and boat tours in Lagos". Seabookings.
  23. Sustainable Tourism Destination EUCC Archived 2017-09-24 at Wikiwix
  24. Diário da República. "Law nr. 11-A/2013, page 552 59" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  25. Guide to the cultural heritage of the Algarve Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine , By Turismo of Portugal:Algarve, OCLC   860570547
  26. Ponta da Bandeira (or Pau da Bandeira) are actually more recent names given the fortress, named for the area of Lagos on which it is actually located.
  27. "Breve historial da sociedade Portuguesa de geriatria e gerontologia". Sociedade Portuguesa de Geriatria e Gerontologia. Archived from the original on 11 August 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
Municipality of Faro District (Algarve)


Albufeira COA of Albufeira municipality (Portugal).png
Alcoutim Alcoutim municipality coat of arms.png
Aljezur AJZ.png
Castro Marim CTM.png
Castro Marim
Faro FAR.png
Lagoa LGA1.png
Lagos LGS.png
Loule LLE1.png
Monchique Crest of Monchique, Portugal.png
Olhao OLH2.png
Portimao PTM.png
Sao Bras de Alportel SBA.png
São Brás de Alportel
Silves (Portugal) SLV.png
Silves (Portugal)
Tavira TVR.png
Vila do Bispo VBP.png
Vila do Bispo
Vila Real de Santo Antonio VRS1.png
Vila Real de Santo António
Albufeira Alcoutim Aljezur Castro Marim Faro Lagoa Lagos Loulé Monchique Olhão Portimão São Brás de Alportel Silves Tavira Vila do Bispo Vila Real de Santo António