There were a few pieces of business I had to attend to in Cascais, so being in the center of town on a beautiful sunny day, I decided to explore places I hadn’t been to yet.
Cascais has a compact town center so it is easy to walk about and discover its hidden gems.
My goal, after completing my business, was to visit the iconic lighthouse that I feature on my Facebook page.
As usual, on my way to the lighthouse, I came across other beautiful and interesting sights.
First, the Pergola House.
The building style in Cascais is playful and is referred to as “Summer Architecture” by some in Portugal. It seems that the building designers liked to mix their metaphors visually back in the day, borrowing from different periods and cultures. What was once a fishing village turned into a resort for the monarchy and later a comfortable refuge for the wealthy during WWII and the architecture reflects the whimsey of the inhabitants during those times.
The Pergola House, which is a Bed and Breakfast reflects some of that spirit.
Across the street from this confection, by the way, is a great bookstore that carries new and used books and many in English.
One place I have wanted to check out is the Cascais museum located in the Town Hall. With a sunny afternoon stretched before me, I decided to make a visit.
It was interesting going through the museum, which is larger than you might expect. The best part for me was the immersive space at the end of the walk. This is something everyone should experience.
By the way, the Museu da Vila is free.
On the way up the hill to the lighthouse, you can see mansions that were built for the wealthy refugees who fled their countries during World War 2 and the Spanish Civil War.
Among the exiles were Count D. Juan of Battenberg and Bourbon (father of King Juan Carlos), King Umberto II of Italy and Carol II of Romania, the Archduke of Austria and Hungary, the Danish royal family and the Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg. A little farther up the coast celebrities such as the writer Ian Fleming, the economist John Keynes and the director Orson Welles. It is said that many spies also stayed in the area during the war and that’s how Ian Flemming began his famous spy novels.
Upon reaching the top of the hill and making my way to the lighthouse, I came across another wonderful edifice which is now the Castro Guimaraes museum. It is at the entrance to the Marechal Carmona Park which I will explore another day.
Originally this was the house of an Irish tobacco millionaire, Jorge O’Neil, and is now a museum showing his private art collection. The most important item in the museum is a 16th Century illustrated manuscript based on the adventures of King Alfonso Henriques that displays the first known representation of Lisbon.
I stopped to take a peek inside and discovered a beautiful courtyard.
There was amazing tilework inside.
Here is a window detail along the exterior of the museum.
Here is another view of the building.
Directly across the road is another house built by O’Neill, the Casa de Santa Maria. Next to the house is the iconic lighthouse.
Back in the day, the people who lived in this house, or visited, were the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg and her family, the Counts of Barcelona, King Umberto II of Italy and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
Now the casa is open to the public, is free of charge and tours are available.
After reaching my destination and enjoying my explorations, I opted to go back down the hill and sit in one of my favorite spots, on the wall at the beach, looking out on the water and watching people play volleyball and soccer or dip their feet in the water.
It was a perfect day.