Nazare, the most intriguing place in Portugal, heavily battered by world record waves and home to a miracle maker wooden statue of Black Madona
When you hear Nazare makes you think about Nazareth. Well, you are not far from the truth. The history of Nazare revolves around a wooden statue brought from Nazareth. There is an interesting legend connected with the statue that starts on a September morning in 1182. The local nobleman Dom Fuas Roupinho believed to be a Templar knight, went hunting that day. While he was chasing a deer the fog rose, he lost his way and he found himself heading straight to the end of the cliff at full speed. He recognized the place because near was a grotto where the local people were praying to a Virgin Mary statue. Before falling from the cliff he starts invoking the Vergin Mary. Suddenly, the horse miraculously stopped and he was saved from falling to his death. The interesting part of the legend comes now tough. Because he was saved, he decided to build a chapel, Capela da Memoria, on top of the grotto. In the grotto, the workers found a parchment that was telling the story of the statue. According to the parchment in the 4 the century because people were afraid that the Iconoclasts could try to destroy the statue it was taken by a monk and brought to Spain to the monastery of Cauliniana near Merida. In the 8th century, the Arab invasion was coming close to the Monastery. The king at that time Roderigo was losing battles and he found shelter at the monastery anonymously. Because the Arabs were near the king and one of the monks decided to go to Portugal. In Portugal they decided to become hermits, The monk found the grotto on top of a cliff close to the ocean and he lived there until the day he died. The king left after a year but when the monk died he buried him in the grotto and put the statue on the altar close the grave. The story of this statue it is a real saga. Also, the Black Madonna was always associated with the Templars and from what I saw, Portugal seems to have a special connection with the Templars and Virgin Mary.
If I have to characterize Nazare in few words, would be a miraculous statue, spectacular waves and a breath-taking underwater canyon one of the triggers for the biggest waves registered at Nazare. Probably I should explain myself better. I know…Canyon and underwater in the same sentence sound a bit confusing.
Nazare Canyon, because this is what I am talking about, starts half a km from the coastline. It comes almost perpendicular to the coastline close to Nazare lighthouse. It is 230 km long and the maximum depth it is at least 5000 m. Now… Close your eyes and imagine the bottom of the ocean without water. Brace yourself, because you are going to see some breath-taking view. Just to compare, imagine Grand Canyon. Now, imagine Grand Canyon having twice its depth…What do you say…?
This underwater giant it might come to a surprise to you. I did not know either that something like this exists so close to the coast of Portugal. This proves how little we know about our own planet and especially how little we know about our oceans. This frightening kingdom of waters seemed to be so untamed and when you are in Nazare you are actually seeing its wrath in action. I never saw waves that big and were not even the biggest, because world record waves were registered in Nazare. The presence of the canyon so close to the continental shelf and big storms sometimes even as far as off the coasts of Irland are creating the perfect conditions for this waves to form.
The best place to watch the waves is from Nazare Lighthouse. People are gathering there with their cameras watching the show and I can tell you is so mesmerizing. It is like looking into a snake eyes, the more you look the more you want to keep looking. Here, the more you watch the waves the more you want to see the next one and then the next one. But, the waves keep coming and you continue to watch them like being under their spell.They break with a thunder sound and although frightening does not stop you from continue watching. There is so much energy unleashed and it is contagious. No wonder Nazare is a magnet for surfers from all over the world.
In November 2011 a Hawaiian surfer broke the world record surfing a 30 m wave. Even without surfing people are coming all year long just to see the waves. The beaches and the coastline close to Nazare are spectacular and while you are there is good to explore the surroundings. If you are planning to visit during Summer you have to know that the water temperature is colder than you might expect, also that the ocean is feisty so when you see it angry is better to stay away from the water. If you are a surfer, that is your heaven.
Maybe the water is colder here but there aren`t too many places where you can see the nature unleashed same as you can see it here Personally, I am in love with Portugal`s coastline. It is the only place where I can see the clash of the two elements, earth and water.
Nazare is closer to Lisbon, 127 km than to Porto There are plenty of places to rent and I suggest to rent a car, gives you more freedom. If you do rent a car avoid highways because the tolls are too high.
When there, dive into the ocean and watch the sunsets because are all so beautiful,,,