‘One of the most innovative cities’
Cascais is a town in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area, situated on the western edge of the Tagus river, between the Sintra hills and the Atlantic Ocean. It has about 225,000 inhabitants and is one of Europe’s oldest holiday resorts.
The municipality is one of the wealthiest in the country – ranking third on the list of the ten most expensive streets in Portugal – and famous for its quality of life.
The name ‘Cascais’ appears to derive from a plural derivation of cascal (monte de cascas), signifying ‘a mountain of shells’, referring to the abundant volume of marine molluscs harvested from the coastal waters.
Its history as a popular seaside resort originated in the 1870s, when King Luis I of Portugal and the royal family made the town their residence every September, turning the quiet fishing village into a cosmopolitan destination at the same time attracting members of the Portuguese aristocracy, who established a summer community thereby building impressive mansions in a wide-ranging style, many of which are still to be seen.
Another important step in the development of the area was made in the first half of the 20th century with the building of a railway from Lisbon to Cascais and the construction of a casino in neighbouring Estoril, which inspired Ian Flemming to write his first James Bond novel in 1953, Casino Royale.
Due to Portugal’s neutrality in World War II and the town’s royal past, Cascais became home to many of exiled royal families in Europe – including those of Spain, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria – and Estoril a centre of international spies and diplomatic secrecy. Many of the places that saw German, British and American spies walk around still exist in Estoril about which the Cascais Tourist office (www.visisitcascais.com) published a small guide (rota misteriosa dos espiões).
Nowadays Cascais is considered to be one of the 50 most innovative cities in the world for its energy transition and climate action policies. It was the first municipality in the country to have hydrogen-powered buses circulating and leading the way as a smart city by using GPS locators.
After a wave of thefts of various palm trees, Cascais City Council decided to put GPS tags on some of its most valuable species in the Avenida 25 de Abril, one of the main roads in the city centre, that was recently upgraded and landscaped for 70,000 euros with several hundred tree species, in particular young palm trees. And with success. One of the stolen trees could be detected in the house of a military man.
And finally, chronic and long-term inpatients at the José de Almeida hospital in Cascais can now be visited by their pets. The first visit took place this spring when a 77-year-old patient received her four-year-old dog Nino. According to the hospital employees, the woman – admitted to the Internal Medicine unit after suffering a stroke – articulated more sentences during the encounter with her dog than during her whole stay in the hospital.
Enjoy the week Aproveite a semana (pic Público/Sapo)