|Nazaré is one of the most famous beaches in Portugal and an important fishing harbour. There's a bullfight |
ring. From the 8th to 15th of September there is one of the most famous pilgrimages in Portugal, dedicated
Our Lady of Nazaré. The main business here is trading fresh, salted and dry fish, shellfish, vegetables, fruit,
corn, cattle, wine and handicraft. Nazaré lives mainly on tourism and fishing.
History Until the XVIII century the bay was more re-entrant and the sea covered what is now Nazaré (in the
XIV and XV century there were more interior ports.) Because of sea erosion, the beach appeared in the XVIII
century (the setback of the sea left very fertile lands there). The emergence of the beach in the XVIII century
is due to a most curious geographical accident on the coast, the submarine valley of Nazaré, one of the deepest
of the Atlantic (this is recognized next to the beach, in the line of the waves. The sea is more calm there but
because of the direction of the sea current, accidents are always more dangerous. There is a strong current in
the direction of the valley's depth and for that reason the beach has neither stones nor shells. Neither the
shipwrecks appear and when they do, they appear in Peniche, much further south.
|The artificial port has diminished the lost of lives but also the typical customs that interested tourists so much. Recently, fishermen had to leave their |
ships on the beach. They were pulled ashore by oxen, women and more recently by tractors. With the appearance of the beach also appeared fishermen
and in 1780 there were already 58 houses for fishermen. Until the XIX century the fishermen inhabited Sitio and Pederneira (at the top of the cliff),
because pirates' attacks, Algerians and Dutch pirates. It began to be known as a beach for holidayers in the half of the XX century. The legend of Nazaré:
during the roman persecutions, in the IV century, many Christian have come to the peninsula. Saint Jerome had, in Bethlehem, a statue of a Virgin of the
milk (Virgin breastfeeding child Jesus) of Nazareth that was a gift of Ciriaco, a Greek friar. Saint Jerome gave it to Saint Augustine who took it to
Cauliniana monastery 12 Km. away from Merida, in Spain. When the Moors won Guadalete battle (battle of the Visigoth king, Rodrigo, against Tarique,
the Arab, in 711, next to Guadalete.) King Rodrigo escaped to Cauliniana monastery (according to History, Rodrigo was killed by the Arabs in that
battle). Then he came with a friar to live here and the friar brought the statue (713). Rodrigo wanted to live alone. He went to live on the summit of the
other mountain, while the friar stayed in Sitio, the cliff near Nazaré, and the statue was hidden under a rock. The friar died and in 1179 two shepherds
discovered the statue and made it a pilgrimage place to Our Lady of Nazaré. In 14-9-1182 D. Fuas de Roupinho, one of Afonso Henrique's (the first king
of Portugal) best warriors and his illegitimate brother as well as a Knight Templar, was hunting on horseback in a very fogy morning, when he saw a deer
and decided to chase it. He hurried after the stag and the stag didn't see, because of the fog, that there was a precipice in front and fell from the cliff, 110
meters high, to the ocean. D. Fuas was galloping right behind and as soon as he heard the noise of the waves, implored the help of the Virgin of Nazaré
who, in the last second, appeared to the horse which froze in vertical position, with the back paws on the floor, this way saving the horseman. In that
place, D. Fuas ordered to build the chapel to house the statue of the Virgin of Nazareth. Here we can still see the footprints of the horse in the rock. The
first king of Portugal has been very dedicated to the Virgin of Nazaré, Vasco da Gama came here before his trip to India, also king Sebastian before trying
to conquer Morocco. In 1377 D. Fernando ordered the construction of a church, improved in later centuries, to house the oldest statue of the Virgin there
is in Portugal (of the time of the Christianity, covered with jewels. In the days of danger, women and the fishermen's children come here to implore help).
Sitio, at the top of the cliff. Up here we see one of the most beautiful panoramas in Portugal (in the most salient point, where you also see the footprint
of the horse on the rock and the hermitage, made where the Virgin appeared): we see the bay, the mouth of Alcoa river, the beach, etc. The funicular that
arrives here, covers 318 meters, in an inclination of 41,5%.
The people of Nazaré has ethnic characteristics and customs of their own, the art of fishing, the shape of the ships, very lively folk groups, vocabulary,
gastronomy (stews with sauce) and clothes also differ from all parts of Portugal. Men walk barefoot. They have clothes like the fishermen of the XIX
century: short pants in Scottish flannel (on Sundays put long pants above), Scottish shirts (they were of families from Scotland) without pockets to swim
better in the event of shipwreck, goblin cap that works as a pocket, belt with 6 turns (superstition). Sometimes the husbands leave to fish at night and
they only return in the following dawn. Women also walk barefoot. A flowery white shirt, a flowery vest, and by tradition they wear 7 skirts, one on top
of the other (= seven days of the week, 7 colours of the rainbow), an apron of embroidered silk, a wool scarf, black hat with a ball at the end. We see some
women dressed in black; they are widows or their husbands are fishing. When the husband returns she will wear gaily colours again. It is curious to see in
a chess of white houses, ladies wearing black waiting for their husbands to return. Widows wear black and only get married again in a different parish.
When the sea is rough women get together on the beach and all begin screaming until their husbands return. Formerly they waited the ships seating on the
beach and sometimes they waited the tragedy with screams and cries. When the sea is rough, the waves turn ships upside down, they submerge them and
then they don't appear. Since there is one of the deepest submarines valleys in the Atlantic next to the beach with strong currents toward their depths,
when they sink they are lost forever. Women participate in all the fishing works but... only after the ship's arrival. When boats arrive, they help them to
unload. The fish is put in boxes weighing 50 Kg and they carry them on the head, while the husbands go directly to the wine shops to get drunk and
gamble all night long. Fishing Nazare is the most dangerous beach but also the most abundant in fish.
The boats: round hulls, of Phoenician origin. Those that are not round, with a flattened bottom, are of Viking origin, as those of Aveiro. They have colored
eyes to bring good luck (to maintain far away the bad spirits) and so that the ship sees better the shoals of fish. In the past, when there was no port, they
were pulled ashore by oxen or by men and women with a long rope and recently by tractors. The nets were placed several kilometres away from the
beach and tractors or oxen pulled them in an endless going and returning. When the net arrived, all gathered to see the fishery, sometimes weighing 2 tons.
The fish Market is on the road that goes to Foz and there one can see the descending auction (100, 99, 98...). The sardine is cooked and canned in the
same day. The fish that goes to local consumption is cut and dried in the sun (when there is too much fish, they salt it or they dry it in the sun so that it is
preserved for scarce days. The fat fish is fished by ships of 3 qualities: big (18-20 people), half (12-15) to fish conger, hake, mere, mackerel and small
ship (8-10) to fish sea bream, lobster, moraine, etc. There are also motor trawlers to fish sardines and the trawlers with oars to fish mackerel shad. They
also fish crab for fertiliser. The fish in Nazare is: hake, mere, corvine, golden, sea bream, mackerel shad, sardine, mullet, moraine, sword fish, needle fish,
tuna, mackerel, bass, codfish several sea bream qualities, hazard, fresh anchovy, turbot, lobster, crab, barnacle, just to mention a few. The artificial port
diminished the lost of lives that happened every year because of the storms. In Africa, Brazil, USA, there were colonies of fishermen from Nazare.