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Cabo Espichel and Pedra da Mua are a fantastic day trip destination from Lisbon, or an excellent part of a longer stay in the nearby fishing village of Sesimbra. The famous Cabo Espichel is located on the westernmost tip of the Setúbal district, about a 15 km drive from the center of Sesimbra. Here, the steep rock walls meet swirling waves and the flamboyant coastal landscape shines in the mind for a long time to come.
We drove by car with Johanna M. of the Muu maa Mandariini -blog to Cabo Espichel’s spacious parking lot at just the same time as a busload of seniors had arrived into the area for a day trip, so we decided to start our own tour of exploration from the opposite direction, although there is enough space for everyone anyway. A strong wind blew against our faces as we approached closer to the edges, but luckily the hot sun and the summer heat of Portugal made sure that not too cold could strike, even in the wind.
HISTORIC CABO ESPICHEL
The Santuario de Nossa Senhora do Cabo Espichel, or in English the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Cape Espichel, has been a popular destination among both pilgrims and scientists. The story goes that this 17th-century site has attracted pilgrims because the Virgin Mary has been seen riding a giant mule along the cliffs in the area. These visions attracted so many pilgrims that long sleeping wings were built on either side of the church. In addition to the church and accommodation wings, only short walk away is Casa da Agua, where they grew vegetables to feed the pilgrims and their guests. Also a short distance away from the church rises the Lighthouse of Cabo Espichel, which is still in operation and also receiving visitors.
Behind the church is the white Chapel of Ermida da Memória, built to mark the place where, according to the story of the Virgin Mary, she appeared. According to the story, the Virgin Mary has ridden this giant mule along a steep rock wall and disappeared just after reaching up, leaving only the large footprints of the mule behind. Scientists and paleontologists, on the other hand, say that the traces are footprints of dinosaurs, which is also supported by the fact that these traces of dinosaurs are found more around the area.
PEDRA DA MUA AND THE DINOSAUR TRACKS
Pedra da Mua is right next to the church area of Cabo Espichel and if you are interested in prehistoric dinosaurs, this is a must see place. Pedra da Mua is famous for its cliffs where dinosaur footprints have been found. Some of these tracks are very easy to detect, some require slightly more accurate observation. The traces are believed to be from the late Jurassic period and about 145-200 million years old. The rocks have been covered with water until they later emerged and traces revealed from them have been found.
Many of the traces are the footprints of Sauropods, some of which are clearly smaller traces from young dinosaurs. The most well-known Sauropod species include Brontosaurus and Brachiosaurus, which many will surely remember from Jurassic Park I as a long-necked vegetarian eater who came to greet Alan Grant and the children next to the tree branch.
Other traces found are the dinosaur traces of Lagosteiros and these traces date from a slightly later era, the Cretaceous, about 65-145 million years ago. These footprints are the footsteps of the Theropods, to whom you would definitely not want to run into during your evening walk. The most well-known Theropod species include Tyrannosaurus Rex and the raptor species.
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HAVE YOU BEEN TO CABO ESPICHEL OR PEDRA DA MUA? ARE YOU INTERESTED IN DINOSAURS AND THEIR HISTORY? HAVE YOU VISITED A PLACE SIMILAR TO THIS? SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! 🙂
<3: Tiina Johanna