Touring & Culture
Today, with over 650 years of history, the region has retained its cosmopolitan and sophisticated feel and nowadays is affectionately known as the Portuguese Riviera.
Due to its proximity to the capital, Cascais is closely linked to much of Portugal’s political and military history having been a popular place of rest and relaxation for the royal family.
The Cascais coast was the first place to be seen by ships approaching the Tagus Estuary and was the last image seafarers took with them when they headed for the far-flung corners of the Portuguese Empire. Its population witnessed the departure of the earliest explorers and saw them return with treasures from Africa, spices from India and gold from Brazil.
Numerous forts remind us of incessant pirate attacks and continuous attempts to occupy the area by Spanish, French and English armed forces throughout Portugal’s long and chequered history.
In more recent times, the region became a pioneer of Portuguese tourism when in 1870 the royal family chose Cascais, more specifically the Cidadela, as its summer residence due to the excellent location, natural surroundings, temperate climate and high quality of the local sea and spa waters.
Due to the events of world history, and on account of Portugal’s rare status as a neutral country, the Cascais area was a place of immense strategic importance during the Second World War and became a major hub of international diplomacy and espionage as one of Europe’s safe havens during this time of crisis.
Cascais hosted many European celebrities, royal families and renowned artists who fled the war in search of a safe place to reside. The warmth and friendliness of the Portuguese people persuaded many of these illustrious visitors to remain in the region permanently, including Josef Von Habsburg of the Austrian royal family who declared: “We feel at home here”.
It was this kind of ambience that inspired the English secret agent, Ian Fleming, to highlight Estoril in his first novel whilst creating the world’s most famous spy, James Bond 007.
Learn about the region through its Heritage:
Located within a confined area, discover different cultural facilities that will keep their identities although as a whole they represent memory, tradition and heritage.
The Museum Quarter is a cultural destination with a diverse offer of experiences that nourish a love for the arts and for the pleasure of life.
Sheltered by Cascais Bay, this impressive 16th century defensive structure was part of a long line of coastal fortifications built to protect the landing areas close to the capital. Today it houses a five-star hotel (Pousada da Cidadela), the Cidadela Art District and Presidential Museum.
Parques de Sintra - Monte da Lua
In 1992, UNESCO expanded the World Heritage categories and established the “Cultural Landscape” criteria. Sintra was the first area in Europe to gain the classiffication of Cultural Landscape in 1995.
The core founding objectives of Parques de Sintra are safeguarding and valuing the natural resources classified as Cultural Landscape of Sintra - World Heritage SIte.