This is what it looks like at the end of the world.
If you sail past the horizon — right out there — you’ll fall off the edge of the Earth.
At least, that’s what the early navigators thought. But the bravest among them proved the theory wrong.
Cabo de Sao Vicente is Europe’s most southwestern point. And it was the last place these Portuguese explorers would see when they set out to discover unknown peoples and unexpected continents.
The Cape was already an important place as far back as Neolithic times. Standing stones have been found here. And the ancient Greeks dedicated a temple to Heracles on the site. The Romans believed it marked the edge of the world too — it was here that the sun sank hissing into the ocean at the end of each day.
Today it is marked by one of Europe’s most powerful lighthouses. Its beacon is visible as far as 60km away.
Just across a craggy wave-bashed bay from the end-of-world lighthouse is the Fortaleza de Sagres.
The fort and its promontory offer outstanding views of the open sea, and of the towering cliffs and sea shaken coast. It’s a great place to walk, and watch storm clouds roll in, slashing the waves with curtains of rain.
Legend has it that Prince Henry the Navigator had a famous school of navigation here, but if so, nothing survives of such a site. He’s known to have used Lagos as the base from which his expeditions set sail, which is further east along the Algarve coast. Although he did apparently spend more time in the Sagres area in his later years, and he died there on November 13, 1460.
If you go there, stand on those cliffs and look out to sea. Imagine the Romans looking out at that same view, from that very same place. And then imagine those brave explorers who risked all to sail across that sea, never imaging the New World that awaited them on the other side.
Is it madness or bravery that sparks such a leap into the unknown?
What would happen if you stood on your own inner promontory, and risked a great leap into the unknown in all areas of your own life…?
Can you imagine the new worlds you would discover?
Photos ©Tomoko Goto 2014