About Pessegueiro Island


Pessegueiro Island (lit. Peachtree Island) is located on the coast of Alentejo Litoral, Portugal, in the Municipality of Sines. It's a small island near Porto Covo, a small town with a famous beach. The island and the adjacent coast are part of Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park.


The island has a history of occupation going back to the Carthaginians before the Second Punic War (218-202 B.C.E.). At the time of Roman conquest of Hispania, the island hosted a small fish processing centre, as evidenced by recently discovered remains of salt tanks. To help defend against privateers, the natural anchorage was extended at the time of the Iberian Union with an artificial rock barrier connecting the island of Pessegueiro to the coastline.

In 1590 construction began on Forte de Santo Alberto. The fort occupied a dominant position on the island, with the purpose of providing military support to a fort on the mainland. Work on the project was halted in 1598 in order to construct the Fort of Vila Nova de Milfontes.

The Legend of Our Lady of Queimada

According to tradition, in the middle of the 18th century, Barbary pirates arriving on the island from Algeria and Morocco encountered a Christian hermit who was maintaining a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The pirates killed the monk, looted the chapel and threw her statue into the flames. Later the inhabitants of Porto Covo buried the Christian hermit but could not at first find the sacred image. Deciding to search the entire island, they finally found the statue within a burned bush but unharmed by the fire. The statue was removed to the mainland, 1 kilometre from the island, where the new chapel, known as Capela de Nossa Senhora da Queimada ("Chapel of the Burned Virgin") is now a pilgrimage site.