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Situated to the west of the Tagus estuary, between Serra de Sintra (Sintra Mountain) and the Atlantic Ocean, the territory occupied by the Municipality of Cascais is bordered to the north by the Municipality of Sintra, south and west by the ocean and east by the Municipality of Oeiras.

Human settlement in the area that is today the Municipality of Cascais goes back to the Lower Palaeolithic period, as attested by the remains found north of Talaíde, in Alto do Cabecinho (Tires) and south of Moinhos do Cabreiro.

Pre-Historic Cascais
Human settlement in the area that is today the Municipality of Cascais goes back to the Lower Paleolithic period, as attested by the remains found north of Talaíde, in Alto do Cabecinho (Tires) and south of Moinhos do Cabreiro. The Neolithic period saw the establishment of the first settlements and the use of natural (such as in Poço Velho in Cascais) and artificial (such as in Alapraia or São Pedro) caves, for the cult of the dead. The bodies were deposited there along with votive offerings, a practice that continued beyond the Chalcolithic period.

Roman Cascais
As testimony to the Roman period we highlight the villa of Freiria (São Domingos de Rana) and Casais Velhos (Charneca), as well as the set of ten tanks found at Rua Marques Leal Pancada in Cascais, part of a manufacturing complex for salting fish. Roman rule is also felt in toponyms (such as Caparide, from the Latin capparis, meaning caper) and in some inscriptions, mainly funerary.

Arabic Cascais
The Arab presence left an abundance of toponyms, for example, Alcoitão or Alcabideche, the birthplace of the poet Ibn Muqãna who, born in the early 11th century, referred to  his agricultural experience and the windmills of Alcabideche:
"You who live in Alcabideche
Hopefully you will never lack
No grain to sow,
Nor onions, nor pumpkins.
If you are a decisive man
You need a windmill
Which works using the clouds
With no need for streams".

Medieval Cascais
In the second half of the 12th century, Cascais was a small village of fishermen and farmers.
The toponym Cascais seems to derive from the plural of Cascal (a heap of shells), which relates to the local abundance of marine molluscs.However, in the territory that now houses the municipality the population concentrated mainly inland, a telltale sign of the dominance of agricultural activities and of the fear of Moorish and Norman pirate attacks.
Administratively dependent on Sintra, of which it was part, Cascais turned into a busy fishing port because of the privileged geographical location of its bay. In this context, on the 7th of June 1364, the good men of Cascais successfully petitioned King Pedro I to elevate the status of the village to  town, which "gave it its own jurisdiction and judges to make law and justice and  all other officers required for the good government of Cascais". In exchange, they promised to pay the Crown two hundred pounds of gold annually, in addition to what they were already paying, which seems to show the wealth of the region, certainly from the fishing industry.
Cascais castle must have been built after this date, since in 1370, the year in which the territory of Cascais was formed, King Fernando was able to donate the castle and the territory of Cascais to Gomes Lourenço de Avelar, as landholder. He was succeeded by, among others, Dr João das Regras and by the Count of Monsanto, who later became the Marquis of CascaisIn the meanwhile, despite the conquest and looting of the castle by the Castilians in 1373, and the blockade of the port, in 1382 and in 1384, Cascais spread outside its walls, giving birth, in the late 14th century, to the parishes of Santa Maria de Cascais, São Vicente de Alcabideche and São Domingos de Rana.

Modern Cascais

The movement at the bay intensified in the initial period of the Discoveries and Expansion, and King João II ordered the construction of a defensive tower in 1488.
Nicolau Coelho, the first captain of the fleet of Vasco da Gama to reach India, disembarked in Cascais in order to travel to Sintra to give the good news to the Monarch. Later, on the 15th of November 1514, King Manuel I granted a town charter to Cascais, and that was the first text regulating municipal life, as the use of the charter of Sintra persisted. On the 11th of June 1551, by licence from King João III, Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Cascais (Holy House of Mercy of Cascais) was founded.
In 1580, Spanish troops, under the command of the Duke of Alba, disembarked in Cascais, conquering the fortress and looting the town. Also during the kingdom of King Filipe I, in 1589, the town was once again looted, this time by the English soldiers who followed Dom António, Prior do Crato, in his failed attempt to conquer Lisbon.
Aware of the defensive deficiencies of the region, King Filipe I ordered the raising of Fortaleza de Santo António do Estoril (Fort of St. Anthony of Estoril) and the addition of  bastions to the old Joanine tower of Cascais (built during the Joanine dynasty), which became known as Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora da Luz (Fortress of Our Lady of Light). Nevertheless, after the restoration of independence in 1640, a wide defensive line was constructed along the coastline of the Municipality, including the expansion and renovation of the existing forts. Another dozen bastions were built, under the direction of the Count of Cantanhede, who was in charge of defending the coastline of the River Tagus, the gateway to Lisbon. Among the structures then raised, it is worth mentioning  that the Citadel of Cascais, built next to Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora da Luz (Fortress of Our Lady of Light), considerably strengthened the defence of this coastal strategic point.
Although he was especially committed to the development of the municipality of Oeiras, Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, Count of Oeiras and later Marquis of Pombal, stood out as a champion of the vineyard and wine of Carcavelos. It is also to him that Cascais owes the benefices granted for the construction of the Real Fábrica de Lanifícios de Cascais (Royal Wool Factory of Cascais) in 1774. During the earthquake of the 1st November 1755, the town was almost completely destroyed.

Contemporary Cascais

In the early 19th century, Cascais was not immune to the French Invasions (1807-11). Between Carcavelos and Paço d'Arcos, by order of Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, the third line of a defensive line for the Lisbon peninsula, known as “Linhas de Torres Vedras” (Lines of Torres Vedras), which would protect the embarkation of the English army in the case of a military defeat, was built. The period of the Liberal Struggles (1828-1834) followed, and we know that, during the Kingdom of King Miguel I, the Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora da Luz (Fortress of Our Lady of Light) was used as a prison for his opponents.
The decadence of the town became more pronounced in 1834, with the extinction of the religious orders installed in the municipality and with the removal of the 19 Infantry Regiment.
From 1859, with the start of the construction of the road linking the town to Oeiras and latter with the construction of the road to Sintra, Cascais is able to overcome a certain stagnation. In 1868, the Teatro Gil Vicente (Gil Vicente Theatre) arises. Manuel Rodrigues de Lima, from Lisbon, funded its construction, and gave its management to the drama society that existed in Cascais.

1870 - Cascais becomes the beach of the Court
In 1870, Cascais witnessed a decisive turning point in its history, when King Luís chose it as his "holiday resort", transforming the living quarters of Governor of the Citadel into a Royal Palace. This decision is directly linked to the improvement in roads, and is also related to the privileged location of the town in comparison to Lisbon and Sintra, in addition, of course, to its natural beauty. By electing Cascais as his holiday location, King Luís brought the Court and the upper bourgeoisie with him. Between September and November, habits changed with the arrival of holidaymakers, leading to a more intense social life: from bathing in the sea to soirees and balls in the royal palace. To receive such illustrious visitors, the town saw the rise of chalets, hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues such as Casino da Praia (Beach Casino).

The tourist boom led to the rapid development of the entire county coastline, assisted by the inauguration of the first stretch of railway between Cascais and Pedrouços on the 30th of September 1889. This is the time when the Estoril locations flourished. First Monte Estoril, under the impulse of a powerful company, then São João do Estoril, where individualism triumphed, supported by the fame of the Banhos da Poça (Thermal Baths). Then, the new Parede was born, designed by Nunes da Mata. Carcavelos remained as a privileged terrain for vineyards. The growth of the town was also due to the establishment of the British colony, which, since 1872, explored the Submarine Cable from Quinta Nova de Santo António, later Quinta dos Ingleses.

Under the vision of Fausto de Figueiredo and his partner Augusto Carreira de Sousa, the Estoril project emerged in 1913 as a centre for tourism with international ambitions. The outbreak of the First World War led to considerable delays in its implementation, and so, it was only on the 16th January 1916 that the first stone of the casino was laid. This was followed by a period of intense construction in areas claimed from the pine forest, from arable land and from the quarries, supported since 1940 by the easy road access provided by the coastal road along the sea.

The option to remain neutral in the Second World War and the proximity to Spain, which was undergoing a Civil War, made Portugal a safe territory for thousands of refugees and exiles.
Among them, we have 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, the Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg. Along the Estoril coast, we also had celebrities such as the writers Maurice Maeterlinc and Ian Fleming, the economist John Keynes and  the director Orson Welles, as is shown in a series of accommodation bulletins for foreigners from that time, now deposited in the Arquivo Histórico Municipal de Cascais (Cascais Municipal Historical Archives).
Today, Cascais continues to maintain this vocation of a welcoming space, guiding its tourism and cultural activity by the quality criteria required by its visitors.

Town Plan
Town Plan

On the 7th of June 1364, the village of Cascais was elevated to town by King Pedro I.

Cascais Digital