Historic villages and castles

The park had several castles around it in order to protect the area and the main towns of Palmela, Setubal, and Sesimbra. With no more battles in sight, it is the beauty of this heritage that now marks the region.


Fenitius and Romans were the first to settle in the south margin of the Sado River, laying the basis for the eternal connection between Setubal and the sea.

The most famous monument of the city is the Convento e Igreja de Jesus, the first building built in manuelino style. It currently holds in its property the Museu da Cidade and the Fortaleza de S. Filipe, the old fortress of the mouth of Sado, which is strategically located in front of the beautiful beaches of Tróia and with a superb view to the ridge of Arrábida on its back. Inside the fortress there is a set of buildings, from a church to the old governor’s residence, now fully renewed.


Palmela is a village located on top of the ridge, where you can see a vast area that goes from Sines to Sintra. It was conquered from the Muslims by Afonso Henriques, the first Portuguese king in the 12th century. The land was then given to the order of the knights of Santiago de Espada due to their services in the conquest of the city. Nowadays the region is known for its excellent wines, specially by its ex-libris: Moscatel de Setubal.


This charming fishing village set up in a bay was originally founded on top of a hill, around a Muslim castle. After several fights between Christians and Muslims, the town was definitely conquered in 1200 by Sancho the first, the second king of Portugal, who demanded the reconstruction of the Castle, then severely damaged. The building is nowadays surrounded by mountains and holds a beautiful view on the sea.

As the finishing activity grew, the population started to leave the ridge in order to settle in the bay. The village soon became, along with Setubal, one of the main ports of the region. Nowadays it is still renowned by its restaurants, which serve delicious fish and sea food.


The cape Cabo Espichel is probably one of the most impressive places in the region. On it there is the Santuario de Nossa Senhora do Cabo Espichel. This baroque sanctuary was built in 1701 and dedicated to Our Lady of the Cape (“Nossa Senhora do Cabo”). It is composed by a church and two extensive shelters for pilgrims. Next to it lies the Ermida da Memoria, a temple built in the 15th century, as well as some dinosaurs footprints engraved in the rocks.