Convento dos Capuchos, Azenhas do Mar


The Convento dos Capuchos was built in 1560 by D. Alvaro de Castro, on behalf of his father D. João de Castro who died before he could fulfill his promise.  It is also known as the Convento de Santo Cruz da Serra da Sintra or Convento da Cortiça. In William Beckford’s travel journal reference is made to the Cork Convent.

The whole complex was built as an austere hermitage with the barest of conditions as the devout friars believed in living with the minimum comfort, spiritually embracing God’s creation of nature.

The various cells and rooms are built amongst granite boulders. Rooms are insulated with cork taken from the trees in the area to keep out humidity. They made use of local natural materials. The friars grew medicinal plants and lived off the land.  The convent remained operational until 1834 when the religious orders in Portugal were terminated. In 1873 it became the property of the Cook family and in 1949 it was acquired by the Portuguese state. In 1995 UNESCO classified the Sintra Hills including where the convent is located as a Cultural Landscape – Heritage for Humanity.


Cabo da Roca is the most westerly point of Europe.  Luis Camoes, Portugal’s famous poet and writer, referred to it in his Lusiadas as the point “where the land ends and the sea begins.” It is part of the Sintra Cascais Natural Park and is 150 metres above sea level.

The lighthouse was built in 1758 and played an important role in the defence of the coast. The views of this coastline and Sintra hills are spectacular.








A picturesque village overlooking the sea with a natural rock pool.







A little further from Cascais and Sintra is the modest town of Colares.  It is well-known for its winery the Adega Regional de Colares that produces the famous Chitas wine.  Colares has some beautiful rugged landscapes and terrain with narrow winding roads. There are a number of small villages nearby with some good cafes and retaurants.

Pat Rodrigues