Today most visitors to Lagos come for the stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife. But this place has seen a small amount of bloodshed over the centuries. The Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths and Moors all made their mark here. In 1577 Lagos became the administrative capital of The Algarve. It is not surprising that a city of such strategic importance would have been surrounded by some pretty heavy fortifications.
It was the Romans who built the first town walls around Lagos and these were reinforced during the Arab and later Christian occupations of the town. The substantial city walls which we see today still form a protective ring around the old historic centre of Lagos date from 16th century, a time when raids by Barbary pirates were all too common and the threat from Spain turned out to be all too real.
Of particular note are the fort of Ponte de Bandeira, and the Porta de São Gonçalo, an arched entrance into the old town flanked by well-preserved Albarran towers. One of the best preserved sections of the wall contains a Manueline window from which it is said the king, Dom Sebastião, addressed the townsfolk in 1578 before going off to his death on the battlefield in Morocco.
It is possible to walk alongside the ancient walls most of the way round, although some sections are adjacent to car parks, which detract somewhat from the pretty views.