Nestled on a hillside that embraces one of Portugal's oldest fishing villages, centuries ago Pederneira was a thriving seaport, famous for its seafaring men and ancient lagoon. Today, the small village is no longer kissed by the sea, but amongst its cobblestone streets and ancient walls, there are still plenty of reasons to want to come home!
Home to a people who have always lived with their eyes turned to the sea, it is no wonder that its cliffs offer one of the most privileged locations in Nazaré to witness the expanse of the Atlantic ocean. An ancient seaport whose waters have subsided, Pederneira with its traditional architecture has become home to some of Nazaré’s most exclusive houses.
The first references to Pederneira appear in documents dating from Roman occupation in Portugal, regarding the Pederneira Lagoon. This lagoon is referred to in a Roman letter as "seno petronero" (meaning "Gulf of Pederneira") and it is believed to have been inhabited since prehistoric times.
After conquering these lands from the Moors, in 1153 the first king of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques, donated the land to D. Bernardo, Abbot of Claraval, who founded the Cistercian Monastery of Santa Maria de Alcobaça. The Monastery of Alcobaça administered this vast territory, known as "Coutos de Alcobaça", for almost 700 years, having cleared the forests and cultivated the fertile lands with small farms known as “granjas”. The “granja” of Pederneira was set on the hilltop at the site of the Igreja da Misericórdia church.
Due to its connection to the sea, during the golden age of the Portuguese Discoveries, Pederneira was also one of the most active naval shipyards in the Portuguese kingdom, from which many ships and caravels set sail. Various types of goods and wood from the Pinhal do Rei were sent through the port of Pederneira and many of its fishermen were recruited as brave sailors.
Over the centuries Pederneira and its sailors have been portrayed as heroes, examples of fearless seamen in coastal navigation. One of these sailors was Bastião Fernandes, who is believed to have sailed with Vasco da Gama on the discovery of the sea route to India, in 1498.
However, at the beginning of the 17th century, the Pederneira lagoon was almost completely gone, giving way to swamps and marshes. With the development of Sítio (on the northern shore of Nazaré) and the receding of the sea level that occurred during this century, slowly people left Pederneira to settle in lower areas of Nazaré that were closer to the waterfront.
After a long period of abandonment, Pederneira slowly regained population throughout the 20th century, assuming its place as a tranquil refuge with the sea at its feet. Today, it is considered Nazaré’s best-kept secret!
Filled with history and local pride, in the central square you will find three iconic landmarks that are hugely symbolic for its population:
Another interesting monument can be found at the top of the hill, next to the town’s beautiful “miradouro”: the 17th century Igreja da Misericórdia (Church of Mercy).
This church holds an image of “Senhor dos Passos”, of which the local population is extremely devoted. The statue is used in the Catholic procession celebrated three weeks after Carnival, one of Nazaré’s most popular annual festivities and also a very important event in Pederneira!
As you walk along the cobblestone streets of Pederneira, you are literally surrounded by history. Not even the ghosts of the past disturb the tranquility of the village, which has a very different rhythm from the beachfront below or from the hill of Sítio, where there are tourists all year round.
Here, the cafés, local shops, and the wooden benches of the town’s squares and lookout points are occupied by the smiles and warm "bom dia" (good morning) of the locals. And despite the proximity of the most popular tourist spots of the Silver Coast, Pederneira still preserves that small-village feeling that makes us feel at home.
Those who come to Pederneira are drawn to its beautiful sunsets with uninterrupted views of the Atlantic or the sun rising over the natural park of Monte de São Bartolomeu. To the quiet walks in the forest or on the immensity of sandy beaches such as Salgado. To relaxing afternoons by the pool, surrounded by sunlight and seagulls flying over the distance. And just a short hop to the vibrance and colour of Nazaré’s beachfront!
Contact us if you would like to know about this wonderful lifestyle.
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