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Costa da Caparica

The occupation of Costa da Caparica is recent. By the end of the eighteenth century, its residents were nearly all fishermen from the Aveiro region, but only during part of the year. Even in the second half of the 19th century when the Portuguese "discovered the beach," it was easier for the Lisbon population to go to Cascais and Estoril.

Today, the beaches of Costa da Caparica are among the country's most popular, attracting vacationers in particular of the Lisbon metropolitan area, especially after 1966, with construction of the Tagus river bridge. After the 60s, the urban pressure also accelerated, with an enormous increase in construction of second homes.


Between 1950 and 2001 the population increased 344% in Costa da Caparica. The seasonal population joined the existing residents, resulting in a 65% increase in the number of people visiting Costa da Caparica. Along with the population of the Lisbon area, came to live there many people from the regions south of the Tagus river, such as workers in heavy industries.

According to the 2001 Census, most of the population living in Costa da Caparica (more than 11 000 inhabitants) work in the tertiary sector / services (over 70%). However, there remains some agriculture and fishing.

Coastal Erosion and defense works

In 1959, following the advance of the sea in the previous year, the first groyne was built to defend Costa da Caparica. Over the following years a groyne field was built to defend the growing urban centre, much of it was being built next to the sand dunes. Two more groynes and a protection wall were built in 1962 and 1963, but in the following year the sea invaded yet again the urban front. In the early 70's there were already seven groynes and a wall 2.5 km long, right in front of the city.

The years 2000 were characterized by critical winters and new episodes of sea advances, which highlighted the fragility of the situation in Costa da Caparica. In 2003 and 2009, the sea advanced and destroyed much of a campsite in São João da Caparica in the northern part of the seawall and the urban beach front. The winters of 2007 and 2008 also proved to be particularly aggressive in Caparica, with the destruction of bars and restaurants.

The urban front, beyond the seawall and the artificial sand dunes constructed under the Polis program, has been subject to sand renourishments in 2007, 2008 and 2009 by the Water Authority (INAG). Although more sand renourishments were planned for 2010, the Water Authority considered they were not necessary, arguing there was still sand left in the system and that it was recovering well. However, in 2011 it is already clear that some beach front restaurants don´t have any sand left. Nevertheless it has been announced that this year there will be no sand refills.

In this area of intervention it’s Polis - a urban requalification program - that determines the shoreline management plans (POOC Sintra-Sado). The Polis requires a reorganization of the territory, with the relocation of the campsites to an area further away from the beach and the demolition of the “palheiros” (small fisherman shacks, typical from the Aveiro region). These decisions have been challenged by the local associations that manage the parks and the owners of the houses.

Outside the area of intervention of Polis, but within our study area, is “Fonte da telha”, a mixture of fishermen dwellings and secondary housing. These were subject to demolitions in the late 80's and will be part of a requalification plan by the Almada Municipal Council, funded by the EU.