The town consists of three sections: Praia (along the beach), Sítio (an old village, on top of a cliff) and Pederneira (another old village, on a hilltop). The Praia and the Sítio areas are linked by the Nazaré Funicular, a funicular railway.
History and legend 
The original settlements were in Pederneira and in Sítio above the beach. They provided the inhabitants with safe bases against raids by Algerian, French, English and Dutch pirates that lasted until as late as the beginning of the 19th century.
According to the Legend of Nazaré, the town derives its name from a small statue of the Virgin Mary, a Black Madonna, brought by a monk in the 4th century from Nazareth, Holy Land, to a monastery near the city of Mérida, Spain, and was brought to its current place in 711 by another monk, Romano, accompanied by Roderic, the last Visigoth king. After their arrival at the seaside they decided to become hermits. The monk lived and died in a small natural grotto, on top of a cliff above the sea. After his death and according to the monk's wishes, the king buried him in the grotto where he left, on an altar, the statue of the Black Madonna.
The first church in O Sítio, was built over the grotto to commemorate a miraculous intervention (1182) by the Virgin Mary in saving the life of the 12th century Portuguese knight Dom Fuas Roupinho, possibly a templar, while he was hunting deer one foggy early morning. This episode is usually referred to as the legend of Nazaré. In memory of the miracle he had a chapel (Capela da Memória) built over the small grotto, where the miraculous statue had been left by king Roderic after the monk's death. Beside the chapel, on a protuberant rock 110 meters above the Atlantic, one can still see the mark made in the rock by one of the hooves of Dom Fuas' horse. This episode is usually called the Legend of Nazaré.
In 1377, King Fernando I of Portugal founded a new more spacious church which was totally transformed between the 16th and 19th centuries. The Church of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré is a rich baroque building, with splendid tiles on its interior. Behind and above the main altar visitors can see and venerate the miraculous statue of our Lady of Nazaré.
Nazaré has become a popular tourist attraction, advertising itself, internationally, as a picturesque seaside village. Located on the Atlantic coast, it has long sandy beaches (considered by some to be among the best beaches in Portugal), with lots of tourists in the summer. The town used to be known for its traditional costumes worn by the fishermen and their wives who wore a traditional headscarf and embroidered aprons over seven flannel skirts in different colours. These dresses can still occasionally be seen.
In November 2011, Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara surfed a record-breaking giant wave: 78 feet (23.8 m) from trough to crest, at Nazaré. On 28 January 2013, McNamara returned to the spot and successfully surfed a wave that appeared even larger, but is awaiting an official measurement. Such very high breaking waves form due to the presence of the underwater Nazaré Canyon. In August 2012, a freak wave killed a 5 year old British girl and her grandfather walking along Salgado Beach.
International relations 
Twin towns — Sister cities 
Nazaré is twinned with:
- "NAZARE TOURISM GUIDE, Portugal's most picturesque fishing village". http://www.golisbon.com.
- "Nazare Tourist Attractions". http://www.planetware.com.
- "McNamara Claims Record For Biggest Wave Ever Surfed". CBS Los Angeles. 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2012-08-22.
- Mauro, Chris (2013-01-28). "Did Garrett McNamara just break his own world record?". GrindTV.com (with Yahoo! Sports). Retrieved 2013=01-29.
- "Hawaiian surfer breaks wave-riding record at Nazare, Portugal". BBC News. 2012-05-11. Retrieved 2012-08-22.
- "Portugal drowning: British girl Lara Lewis and grandfather Brian O'Dwyer swept away in rough seas during holiday in Nazare | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. 2012-02-29. Retrieved 2012-08-22.
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