Village of asymmetries, Cascais is proud of its singularity.
Located between the Sintra hills and the sea, the town contributed to the frenetic period of the Discoveries that left traces in the defensive structures of Fort of Saint Jorge de Oitavos and Fort of Nossa Senhora da Luz.
From 1870 onwards the town served as the vacation residence of the Portuguese royalty, aristocracy and high bourgeoisie, ushering in a new age of modernity. New roads were built, linking Cascais to Oeiras and Sintra. The Teatro Gil Vicente was opened, thus stimulating the region’s cultural life. Summer residences were built, that now serve as postcard images for the town. The beaches hosted the new aristocratic fashion of “going to the baths”, and chalets and palaces were built in the surrounding areas.
In the wake of King D. Carlos’ fascination with the sea, Cascais began to cater to luxury yachts. The town thus became a centre for water sports. The Cascais Nautical Centre opened in 1903 and various regattas were organised. More than a century later, the local waters are now stage for important international events such as the America's Cup World Series or the RC44.
Cascais’ cosmopolitan atmosphere intensified from 1913 onwards, thanks to the Estoril Casino project, which included elaborate gardens and a large palace-hotel. A panoply of chalets, villas and luxury hotels were erected in the neighbourhoods of São João, São Pedro and Monte Estoril. In the wake of World War II, the Costa do Sol served as the ideal refuge for wealthy exiles.
Alongside these famous celebrities who visited the Costa do Sol during this period, Cascais attracted a legion of spies, police agents and journalists from around the world, creating a film-like atmosphere of intrigue and suspense. The Hotel Palácio in Estoril was one of the most popular grounds for spies. Ian Fleming stayed in the hotel in 1941, and it is believed that this was the setting which led him to create the famous James Bond character. In recent years, Cascais has built on this tradition and has increasingly becoming even more cosmopolitan.
But Cascais’ diversity goes well beyond its natural riches. Over recent years the Estoril Congress Centre, where the Estoril Conferences happen, has been the venue for international meetings in a wide array of different areas - economic, social and political. And the inauguration of the Paula Rego House of Stories has endowed the town with an internationally recognised cultural vocation.