In mid-spring, not every day has perfect weather.
The wind blows a little stronger, at intervals, deviating from the west, so the Serra do Risco above it is not always the bar of the fortress ordered to be built by D. João IV.
Completed in 1648, the fort proved to be pivotal in the Restoration of Independence movement.
In the following reign, it served as a bathhouse for the various bastard children of D. João V, known as Meninos de Palhavã, until it was restored to its deserved dignity, named the seat of the Government of Arms of the Region that led the defenses closer.
Next to one of the dens that stand out from the structure, we can see the current vital function of the Fortress of Santiago.
Today, not used to the summer warmth of the cove, the international community of bathers adjusts to it as best they can, escaping the intermittent discomfort.
Sun, Beach and the Best Fish in the World
The next day, the calm returns to the village and an anxious crowd sprinkles the open sand.
The water had softened a little. The guarantee of hot sun on the return of the towels proved to be enough to encourage invigorating baths, in shades of emerald green.
An hour later, the restaurants just above Ouro and California are also on fire. Many visitors to Sesimbra arrive for the beauty and privilege of its beaches.
Others, for the simplicity and excellence of the cuisine of the sea, for the grilled of everything, fish was something that was never lacking, offshore, with such quality that Sesimbra proclaims it, without ceremony, "the best in the world", as pronounced by several chefs Portuguese cuisine.
Even if the village's fishing fleet has diminished over time, the one that remains continues to supply the restaurants and delight the guests.
In times past, it was from the long sands on both sides of Forte da Praia (as the fortress is also known) that fishermen set sail.
Beaches to one side, Fishing to the other
They returned to them and there they surrendered to the Xávega art that resists, in Sesimbra. More recently, the town's tourist notoriety has forced it to be reorganized.
The golden sands were, in full, for tourists and bathers.
The fishermen, fish market, maritime police, docks and the like were grouped in the western corner of the cove, with the boats and other protected structures doubling by the large pier that the authorities provided with a providential lighthouse.
Despite the much to be explored in the historic center of the town, we detour to the port area.
The Return of the Trawlers, at a Late Lunchtime
There we roam, among opportunistic seagulls that peck at the remains of nets, above schools of large fish that patrol the translucent and fenced waters.
We pass by workers who recover vessels, not all of them fishing vessels.
By groups of fishermen who share tables and repasts, with different shifts from those on board, about to moor right there, loaded with octopus and swordfish.
The "little lion”, all painted green, leaving no room for doubt.
The "Our Faith”, green-and-white, of belief in destiny and, so we would say, in the same club success as the “little lion".
The fishermen of Sesimbra keep their accent pex of the region and still fish as a family.
Out of nowhere, António Lourenço, 91 years old, very well maintained, appears pushing a cart with boxes.
The kids had finished unloading the octopuses at the opposite dock. Once the empty boxes were packed, they could join, with a grandson who is already out to sea, at his family's table.
We asked them, as a joke, if the octopuses still fall for that trick, if they haven't already unraveled the traps. “Look, until you see, it seems not!”, they assure us, in a good mood.
“Let's hope they don't learn too soon. Octopuses sell well enough and are expensive.”
Fishing in a Harsh Atlantic, as Always
We took advantage of the momentum. We asked Mr. Lourenço if the fishing continues as hard as ever. "It's the same thing!" confirms us without appeal. “Have you seen that sea over there towards Cabo Espichel?
That, when we are taken by surprise, is terrible.
And there are boats that go from here to Peniche and back. A few years ago there was one in the background with eleven or twelve men.”
We got clear. We released him for the late lunch. We return to the center.
The seagulls also fly around, attracted by the arrangements, the remains and aromas emanating from the restaurants.
Despite the inevitable gentrification, many fishermen inhabit the children's homes in the center which, we must emphasize, are still made of customs and traditions.
Murals of Homage and the Pexita Culture of Sesimbra
We walked Rua da Fortaleza and Av. 25 de Abril was out, here and there, with incursions into streets and alleys along the waterfront, paying attention to the murals that praise the hard life of fishermen and decorate the city.
The one in Largo de Bombaldes honors Serafim Painho, Mestre Baúça (1933-2019), an emblematic fisherman of the village and Xávega art.
A short distance away, we find the artist João da Kruz, committed to decorating yet another circuit box in Sesimbra with characters and exquisite phrases, coming out of some street conversation: “Shocks and squid?? Safa now the giga!!! Squééiste!!!"
The Pexite tradition dates back a long time and is everywhere in the village.
For example, the counter at the bakery-pastry shop “A Camponesa”, known as Joaquim do Moinho, which displays a balanced pile of toasted flour and a historical gastronomic asset of the region.
Toasted Flour: Dessert and Meal, from Generation to Generation
At a certain point, toasted flour became popular as the quintessential dessert in Sesimbra. Families made it with flour, eggs, brown sugar, chocolate, cinnamon and lemon zest.
Expensive eggs and chocolate were used in small quantities. For this reason, in a short time, toasted flour hardened.
On the one hand, its consumption became challenging. On the other hand, the slices resisted almost anything.
It was consumed for therapeutic purposes, in cases of colds and coughs, ailments that were believed to be cured faster if the flour was accompanied by dark beer.
The fishermen, in particular, got used to taking it aboard boats, counting on the immediate sweetening and nourishing stimulus and the energetic power of each bar.
Sesimbra and the Remote Origins in Póvoa Ribeirinha
Just below, at the bottom of the paved staircase that serves Largo Euzébio Leão, there is a fountain with four spouts, once shared by the people of Sesimbrão.
A few meters to the south, the pillory of the village stands out from another square, a replica of the original from the 1988th century. XVI, destroyed already during the century. XX and rebuilt in XNUMX.
Sesimbra is much older than its original pillory.
Fishing in the area dates back to the 1201th century. In XNUMX, D. Sancho proclaimed, via the Charter, that a salary should be paid for fish, a reason for serious benefits for the Crown.
Since Roman times, shoals abounded offshore.
In such a way that, with the Middle Ages behind, the Order of Santiago reported to King Sancho II that even foreign ships fished there offshore.
In origin and until sec. In the 300th century, the village was concentrated at almost XNUMX meters of altitude, inside the castle that D. Afonso Henriques conquered, but lost to the Almoádas.
And that, on the turn to the twelfth century, D. Sancho I reconquered for good, after which he made the village official, by means of a charter.
With time and the priority of fishing, shipbuilding and other maritime activities promoted around the original Póvoa Ribeirinha, Sesimbra descended heavily towards the seaside.
The castle continues to impose its keep and centuries-old battlements.
The Imposing Castle of Sesimbra
When we look at it, from the viewpoint of the Facho de Santana panoramic swing, between somewhat quixotic windmills, we are amazed, like a yellowish mirage hovering between the stone pine forest and the clouds.
Sesimbra is prodigal in this type of passionate visions. Moments later, back at the seaside, we live another one.
With the port and the Forte do Cavalo behind, a gravel road takes us up the mountain. A pronounced curve points it towards Sentrao.
By that time, we left it for an indefinite trail, branching out in dense vegetation.
The surreal Atlantic view of Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo
Gradually, the trail descends to a pronounced thalweg, that of Ribeiro do Cavalo. Through it, we descend to the back of the slope.
Two fragrant fig trees foreshadow a rounded beach.
And this sand, a still, translucent sea, in an exuberant turquoise tone that contrasts with the limestone cliffs and the fine sand, the closer to the Atlantic, the more golden.
The days passed. Sesimbra continued to dazzle us.
With no way to resist him, we plunged into the water, splashed around, swam between the lucky cliffs, encouraged to double down by the much that we still had to discover.
WHERE TO STAY IN SESIMBRA:
Four Points By Sheraton Sesimbra
Phone: +351 21 051 8370