Cabo da Roca – Travel to the End Of Europe!!
Cabo da Roca literally means Rock (Roca) Cape (Cabo). Setting foot on this headland, you gaze upon the vast expanse of water in front of you. The fierce waves of the Atlantic crash against the rocks at the base of the cliff making a shrill sound. The outcry of the wind was making it difficult for me to steadily hold my camera and capture the panoramic views of the Atlantic. The pathways are dangerous with crumbling and loose rocks. As I reached near the ledge of the cliff, the dramatic effect of the view reminded me of the scene in Game of Thrones when the flock of Iron Fleet gets ready for the battle with the Targaryens.
My reverie was interrupted by a series of tourists buses. A big group of tourists crawled all over the place and kept obsessively taking photographs. There are times that such situations irk you as a traveler when you just need a photograph and people are insensitive to the other’s time. As I made peace with myself on the situation, they made sure that they occupied a part of my photo frame in every shot.
One of the highlights of setting foot on this wild land is that it is the westernmost point of Europe. There is a stone monument that has a poem engraved by Camões – “aqui…onde a terra se acaba e o mar começa.” (Here where the land ends and the sea begins). Interesting fact about Camões is that although he is the most revered poet in Portugal, he spent 15 years of his life in Goa, India and produced some of the best works in this tenure. Camões disembarked in Goa, India in 1553 after a voyage of seven months. In Goa, he was imprisoned for debt and on his first expedition, he joined a battle along the Malabar Coast. The Malabar expedition was to free the ruler of Cochin from the Sultan of Chembe. His poem ‘The Lusiads’ is considered as one of the most influential works in Portuguese literature. It focuses on the Age of Discovery when Portugal traveled the world in 15th and 16th centuries. Most of this work was written during this tenure in Goa.
The other engraving on the stone monument states “ponta mais ocidental do continente europeu” which means the Westernmost tip of the European continent. The coordinates of the place is also engraved at the bottom part of the stone monument which is latitude 38º 47´north and longitude 9º 30´west. There are historical records that indicate the presence of a fort that assisted in guarding the entrance of Lisbon’s harbor. It formed a defensive line during the Peninsular Wars. Today there is only a lighthouse and a souvenir shop at the tourist office. One of the popular souvenirs amongst the tourists is the handwritten certificate (costing 11 euros) with your name stating your presence at this part of the land.
There is another monument at Cabo Da Roca erected by the Rotary Club of Sintra in 1980 to commemorate 75th anniversary of Paul P. Harris (Founder of Rotary Club).
This scenic clifftop walk was once the last sign of land seen by the Portuguese sailors who set out to explore the unknown world. My guide assured that on a clear sunny day, one can view the New York Skyline. A look of disbelief on my face made him repeat the same line twice in a louder tone reassuringly 😉
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