Nazare Light

Nazare, Portugal | C.1903

Photo Credit: Juncal Roig

Built in 1903, the Nazare Light is part of the Fort of Sao Miguel Arcanjo, overlooking Praia do Norte, Nazare (North Beach) which is known for having the biggest waves ever surfed in the world.

While the fort dates back to 1577, it was not until the beginning of the twentieth century that the government installed a lantern and a house for the keeper to support fishing activity and assist navigation along the Portuguese coast.

On October 29, 1903 restoration works were carried out for the installation of the lighthouse and shortly after, the famous traditional fishing spot had an active round, red, iron lantern with a service balcony, mounted on the wall of the fort.

The town itself used to be known for its traditional costumes worn by the fishermen and their wives who wore headscarves and embroidered aprons over seven flannel skirts in different colors. These dresses can still occasionally be seen.

Nazare has become a popular tourist attraction for its picturesque seaside and the religious festivals dedicated to Our Lady of Nazare, but it is also a very well known location for big wave surfers.

Such very high breaking waves form due to the presence of the underwater Nazare Canyon which creates interference between incoming swell waves, making for massive crests.

In November 2011, Garrett McNamara, surfed a record-breaking giant wave: 78 feet (23.8 m) at Praia do Norte. However on January 17, 2018 Portuguese big wave surfer Hugo Vau caught what might have been the largest wave ever surfed at 115 feet (35 meters).

Open to the public since 2014, the Fort and the Lighthouse have one of the most dramatic views of the village of Nazare and is one of the favorite places for giant wave enthusiasts.

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