Cabo da Roca

For the cape in Antarctica, see Cape Roca (Antarctica).
Cape Roca
Cabo da Roca

The Cabo da Roca lighthouse, overlooking the promontory towards the Atlantic Ocean
Highest point
Peak Cabo da Roca (Sintra-Cascais Natural Park)
Elevation 140 m (460 ft)
Coordinates 38°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
Etymology roca Portuguese for sea cliff
Cape Roca

Location of the Cabo da Roca in continental Portugal

Country  Portugal
Region Lisboa
Subregion Grande Lisboa
District Lisbon
Parent range Serra da Sintra

Cabo da Roca (Cape Roca) is a cape which forms the westernmost extent of mainland Portugal and continental Europe (and by definition 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]


Aqui, onde a terra se acaba e o mar começa...[Here, where the land ends and the sea begins...]
Luís de Camões, Os Lusíadas

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 located 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 in this cape are 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

Day picture of the shoreline at Cabo de Roca
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cabo da Roca.



  1. 1 2 "Cape Roca". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-12.
  2. Anja Scheffers and Dieter Kelletat (2005), p.6
  3. António Oliveira Fonseca (2010), p.11


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