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Traditionally a land of fishermen and seafarers, Sines retains in its memory the pride of having been the birthplace of Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese navigator who discovered the sea route to India, although it now exhibits an industrial port and tanker terminal surrounded by pipelines.

The city keeps its picturesque old center and sandy beach, but visitors who knew it before 1971 often complain of the pollution and the loss of the town's traditional soul.

Above the beach stands the simple Medieval castle restored in the 16th century by King Manuel I (it is here that Vasco da Gama, son of the local mayor, is said to have been born in 1469). A modern statue of the navigator now faces the bay. The city's Archaeological Museum displays interesting jewellery, probably of Phoenician origin, found nearby.

The county of Sines is specially known for its beautiful beaches. Porto Covo, about ten kilometres south of the city, is an enchanting village with whitewashed houses trimmed with a blue hem and an old fort standing above a cove beach. A short boat ride takes the visitor to the Pessegueiro island, swept by winds and displaying the ruins of a fort from the 17th century.

Visitors now crowd Porto Covo every Summer, as well as the deep blue lagoons of Santo André and Melides, on the sandy coast about 20 kilometres north of Sines.

The zone is chosen by water birds such as wild ducks and geese, herons and kingfishers, and the local gastronomy includes caldeirada (a stew with several kinds of fish) and ensopado de enguias (eel stew with bread).

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