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Ericeira Hote by night

Ericeira is a civil parish and seaside resort/fishing community on the western coast of Portugal, in the municipality of Mafra, about 35 kilometres (22 mi) northwest of the capital, Lisbon. It is a popular destination for local and visiting tourists, as well as amateur surfers (owing to the 40 beaches with good conditions in the area).

Convoluted in its history was the region’s taxonomic name; Ericeira originated from Ouriceira, itself a derivative of Ouriço, referring to the name for sea urchins (used in parish’s coat-of-arms). One legend suggested that Ericeira was the terra de ouriços (land of ouriços), owing to, what was assumed to be the numerous quantity of sea-urchins that abounded along the beaches. Yet, recent investigations, archived in the Museum of the Misericórdia, confirms that the animal mentioned was not an “ouriço”, but an “ouriço-caixeiro” (hedgehog), a species that equivalent to the Phoenician goddess Astarte. Its old settlement, presumably dates to the passage and colonization of the Phoenicians.

The region’s first foral (charter) dates to 1229, when it was issued by friar D. Fernão Rodrigues Monteiro, Master of the Cavalry and the Military Order of São Bento de Avis, which was later reformed by King Manuel, in 1513.

Owing to the regions commercial maritime access, Ericeira was an area frequented by peoples for its climatic and seaside comforts. In fact, Charles Lepierre, a chemical engineer referred to Eirceira’s beaches as “a focus of the major concentration of iodine in all of the northern Portuguese coast”.[5] In 1803, the Bishop of Coimbra took regular baths in Eirceira, in addition to the Royal Family, who frequented its waters, including Queen Maria Pia of Savoy in 1864.

After the disappearance of King Sebastian of Portugal, during the Battle of Alcácer Quibir, there arose several pretenders to the throne. One of these, was the King of Ericeira, a young hermit based in the Chapel of São Julião, south of the village of Ericeira, who passed himself off as the Dom Sebastian. He crowned a Queen, distributed handouts and punished his detractors, conceding several noble titles. In the end, he was taken to the guillotine, and his supporters too ended-up in the gallows.

At the end of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th century, many of Lisbon’s local aristocracy began to build homes in the parish, including the Burnays, Ulriches and Rivottis.
The development of the commercial port, turned Ericeira into a fundamental pole of the region’s economy. Reports dating from 1834 noted the shipwrecks of 175 boats that transported products to the village, princiaplly cereals (which were then distributed into the interior), while exports were sent to the Algarve, the islands and other locations, especially wines and other spirits. The customshouse in Ericeira supported an area that extended from Cascais to Figueira da Foz, and the port was the fourth-most important in the country, after Lisbon, Porto and Setúbal. With the construction of the western railway and the development of terrestrial transport, the port of Ericeira lost much of its importance. At the end of the of the 19th century, several warehouses and supply shops for sardine fishers, that altered the old fishing characteristics of the site, employing 500 men in the meantime. Ericeira recognized its golden age of prosperity during the 19th century, when the port was the most transited in Estremadura.

During the Second World War, the region became a refuge for several foreign communities, including pockets of Poles, Germans, French, Belgians and Dutch expatriates, fleeing Nazi persecution in their homelands.

Ericeira is more famously known for the day that King Manuel II of Portugal went into exile, from the Praia dos Pescadores, after the outbreak of the 5 October 1910 revolution.[8] It was about 3:00 in the afternoon of 5 October 1910, when the 20-year-old monarch, accompanied by Queen Amélie of Orleans and Queen Mother Maria Pia, arrived from Mafra. Arriving by car, from the Republican revolution recently installed in Lisbon, the king was bound for the royal yacht D. Amélia offshore. The details were later immortalized in 1928 by Júlio Ivo, then president of the municipal council of Mafra (during the presidency of Sidónio Pais, who explained: “…the automobiles stopped and the Royal Family got out, they followed the Rua do Norte to the Rua de Baixo, to the narrow lane that connects the two road, almost in front of the Travessa da Estrela…On arrival at the Rua de Baixo, the Royal Family went in the following order: at the front, the King Manuel; followed by Maria Pia, then Amélia…the King, who accompanied him, climbed aboard the boat using crates and baskets of fish…the flagman signalled with his hat, and the first boat, the Bomfim, carrying the blue and white flag on the stern, followed by the rows, driving the King…the affluence along the coast was immense. Everyone silent, but many with tears running from their eyes…The King was very pallid, Amélia animated, Maria Pia was overwhelmed…The boats had hardly come alongside the yacht, when in the village there appeared, coming from Sintra, a automobile with civil revolutionaries, armed with carbines and bearing bombs, which they later indicated they were prepared to throw at the beach, if they had reached it at the time of the departure…”.

Its location, near Lisbon, and the development of the roadway network permitted, after the 1950s, a greater migration of summer sun-seekers, which helped to modify the character of the area. Initially a commercial fishing port, Ericeira was transformed into an urban agglomeration dependent on seasonal tourism.

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