Remember this: when traveling to Porto by train from the south, always sit on the left hand side of the train and stick to the window so that you will be able to see Portuguese nature at its best. The landscape along the railway is truly unique - dozens of perfect sand dunes, the powerful Atlantic ocean and unforgettable sunsets. For me, these train rides have the same effect as meditation. The best part starts around Espinho, a small city famous for its huge casino, and lasts all the way to Miramar beach. And there, in the middle of the beach, there's a chapel that no one would expect to see - Capela do Senhor da Pedra (The Chapel of the Lord of Stone), standing on the top of a small hill of stones, surrounded with waves crashing on the rocks.
Miramar beach inspires regardless of this peculiar chapel. It seems endless, most of the time it is almost completely empty (except for summer!), sky and the sea generate the most amazing colours. As many other Portuguese beaches this one also has been awarded some of those "the best beach in Europe" prize a few years ago. It may or may not be true, but it's anyway worth visiting. As for the chapel, it was built in the 17th century, as a response to pre-Christian heretics, on an old pagan site. It was constructed in a baroque/rococo style, and it has octagonal shape. Outside is decorated with typical Portuguese blue/white azulejos.
Miramar itself is a very small village, now trendy residential location featuring fancy houses, and a 9-hole golf course for those wanting to escape the big city of Porto.
The place also inspired the most famous Portuguese director, Manoel de Oliveira who filmed a documentary film entitled "Miramar, praia das rosas" ("Miramar, beach of the roses") in em 1938. The film was narrated by at the time famous journalist, Fernando Pessa.
Nowadays, this beach is mostly visited by those interested in water and wind sports, like surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. There are also several cafés with "esplanadas" around, so one can sit, have a drink and enjoy the sunset, which is the best time to be here.
To come here, you can take a train from Porto São Bento to Francelos (15 minutes ride), and then enjoy a walk on the beach-side boardwalk. Once at São Bento train station, don't forget to look around and admire breathtaking artworks in the main hall. And remember, if coming by train from the south, sit on the left hand side of it.
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