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Lagos, Portugal: Its Interesting History


I have written quite a bit about Lagos - its charm, beauty, laid-back approach, and it’s delightful and friendly people. It’s time to add a little bit of history into the mix, so we have some context with how this beautiful town came to be what it is today.


Lagos was originally established as an ancient fishing harbor. Its origins go as far back as 2000 BC. The Celtics, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors, and Portuguese all helped create this charming seaside town in the Western Algarve Region.

Trade brought a great amount of wealth to Lagos and in 1576 it became the regional capital of the Algarve. It remained the capital until 1755, when the Great Earthquake struck Lisbon (300 km north of Lagos). The quake was an estimated 8.7 on the Richter Scale, destroying Lisbon and the tsunami that followed (with waves reaching nearly 50 feet in height) devastated the Algarve coastline, causing mass destruction in Lagos. Some of the walls that enclosed the city collapsed and 90% of the buildings, homes, and churches in the old town (where we are currently staying) were leveled. It is said that the destruction was beyond description. Although parts of the walls remain today, most all the current buildings in Lagos are from the rebuilding that followed the earthquake. After the tsunami, the far less devastated city of Faro (spared because its sandy banks slowed down the water) became the capital of the Algarve.


The 19th century was basically a quiet one for Lagos as fishing and whaling became the primary industry. The opening of Faro Airport (65km away) in 1965 created the opportunity for tourists from all over the world to come to Lagos . . . and they did. As more and more people flocked to this seaside town, it transformed from a quiet little fishing village into the vibrant and international city that it is today. With infrastructure investment and new roads connecting the Algarve to Lisbon and Spain, an influx of people began settling in the area in the 1990's. People from all over Europe and even beyond were discovering Lagos - and what they found was what the early settlers saw years ago - a beautiful, romantic, and peaceful place with the same delightful climate and wonderful, easy way of life that the settlers discovered 2000 years ago.


And it is this wonderful, easy way of life that we are enjoying on our visit to this delightful and very friendly city.



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