This is going to be a two-part post — Sines — Ancient and Modern. I am breaking all the rules and giving you the modern first! I’m doing this mainly because when I visited Sines with this idea in mind, the old town was totally blocked off for renovations.
Sines has been used as a port since Roman times and as such has a long and varied history similar to most towns of importance in Portugal. Like Beja it enjoyed visits from the Visigoths and the Moors.
Sines is famous for being the birthplace of Vasco de Gama. His father was civil governor in the 1460s.
Sines is now being invaded by a different conqueror thanks to its natural deep water port — heavy industry.
On arriving from the South, you are greeted by the EDP power station which is run on a high percentage of wood pellets. Portugal has a problem with one of its type of pine trees – pinus pinaster/ Maritime Pine — they have a disease which means they all have to be chopped down. These diseased trees are converted into wood pellets and then used to fuel the power stations.
These three huge docking cranes are evidence of the developing deep water shipping facilities in Sines. This terminal deals with huge container ships which can often be seen queuing out in the bay in a similar manner to aeroplanes in a circling pattern at airports.
As well as acting as a deep water container port, Sines can also accept oil tankers which have led to the development of refineries for Repsol, Galp and other petroleum companies. Along with refineries come miles and miles of piping. These are quite magnificent in their own right and form an intriguing facet of modern architecture.
Last, but not least for today, is the housing that has been built to house all the new workers. Unlike the small historic traditional buildings of yesteryear — these new blocks tower over their neighbours below.
I hope to bring you ancient Sines soon.