Cabo da Roca

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Cape Roca
Cabo da Roca
Cabo da Roca on sunset.jpg
The Cabo da Roca lighthouse, overlooking the promontory towards the Atlantic Ocean
Highest point
PeakCabo da Roca (Sintra-Cascais Natural Park)
Elevation140 m (460 ft)
Coordinates38°46′51″N 9°30′2″W / 38.78083°N 9.50056°W / 38.78083; -9.50056Coordinates: 38°46′51″N 9°30′2″W / 38.78083°N 9.50056°W / 38.78083; -9.50056
Etymologyroca Portuguese for sea cliff
Cape Roca is located in Portugal
Cape Roca
Cape Roca
Location of the Cabo da Roca in continental Portugal
Country Portugal
SubregionGrande Lisboa
Parent rangeSerra da Sintra

Cabo da Roca (Cape Roca) is a cape which forms the westernmost extent of mainland Portugal, continental Europe and the Eurasian land mass. The cape is in the Portuguese municipality of Sintra, near Azóia, in the southwest of the district of Lisbon, forming the westernmost extent of the Serra de Sintra.[1]


Cabo da Roca was known to the Romans as Promontorium Magnum[1] and during the Age of Sail as the Rock of Lisbon.


Monument declaring Cabo da Roca as the westernmost extent of continental Europe
The granite boulders and sea cliffs along the coast
The invasive Carpobrotus edulis spread onto the plateau of the Cape

The cape is within the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, 42 kilometres west of the city of Lisbon and in the southwest of Sintra. A location (38°47′N 9°30′W / 38.783°N 9.500°W / 38.783; -9.500) is inscribed on a stone plaque, located on a monument at the site.

The western coast is a mixture of sand beaches and rocky cliff promontories: around Cabo da Roca, cliffs are more than 100 metres in height, and cut into crystalline rocks, composed of strongly folded and faulted sedimentary units. These forms are disturbed by dikes and small beaches.[2] This promontory of "high" beaches is the extreme western immersion of the ancient eruptive Sintra massif, as evident from the rose-coloured granite in the north and syenite of the Ribeira do Louriçal in the south. In the vicinity of the Cape, there are geomorphological examples of gabbro-diorite, volcanic breccia, and granite.

Part of the granite formations show evidence of strong coastal erosion, while in other areas there are limestone deposits embedded in the granite.[3]

Much of the vegetation on this cape is low-lying and adapted to saltwater and windy conditions. Once home to a variety of plant life, Cabo da Roca has been overrun with the invasive plant species Carpobrotus edulis. This creeping, mat-forming plant, a member of the Aizoaceae succulent family, was introduced as ground cover by local residents several decades ago, but now covers much of the arable land on Cabo da Roca.

Many migratory and marine birds roost temporarily along the cliffs and protected coves of the coastal area.

See also[edit]

Day picture of the shoreline at Cabo de Roca

External links[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Cape Roca". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-12.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Anja Scheffers and Dieter Kelletat (2005), p.6
  3. ^ António Oliveira Fonseca (2010), p.11