For centuries the tuna industry flourished in Algarve, Portugal. When fishermen flocked to the coast of Portugal, the tuna population became threatened over time until it was no longer profitable to fish for tuna. The ships are long gone, however the anchors were left behind.


Rather than toss used materials to sea, the fishermen would abandon the anchors on the beach. The fishermen reportedly left anchors scattered for miles up and down the beaches.

Generations ago the anchors were staggered neatly as you see them today. Nobody knows who did the staggering and when.

The locals call it the Cemitério das Âncoras (cemetery of anchors) and since no official record was made of the anchors source, all we know is what has been passed down from generation to generation.

Comparatively there isn’t much mystery behind the anchors as we know they were placed there by fishermen over time – we just don’t know when or specifically who arranged them in that manner.  In fact most recently, there were discussions to clean up the anchors from the beach.

What do you think?  Eyesore or cultural history?

(Click thumbnails to enlarge)

See it on a map here

(Images via WebUrbanist & Artificial Owl)


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  1. cultural history for sure! it appears they’re cordoned off, so they’re not occupying the whole beach by any means.

  2. A thoughtful and sculptural reminder that situations and lives can be changed by factors beyond our control.

  3. The photos certainly make it look beautiful. I suspect they could clean up a section of the anchors to make useable beach while leaving a large sections as a museum and for curiosity. Do you know what they decided to do?

    • Funny you ask about that, I clicked the map link to see what it looks like now – and I don’t see the anchors. I published this almost 3 years ago so I wouldn’t be surprised if something had been done with the anchors. Maybe the map link is incorrect and they are still there somewhere. Good question though, I’ll have to look more into this…

        • Kate, I would very much appreciate that, thank you! Are you local to the area? If you do find the anchors I would like to feature more photographs as well. If you are interested, I could feature your work here and I would be happy to give you photo credit as well. Thanks!

  4. I am going there on tuesday, my sister has a house there.
    It is the most beautiful place! I was lucky enough to go there every year as I grew up.
    I will walk amongst them for you and take a few pictures.
    Lots of lives were lost catching tuna often by hand out of the boat! and the locals remember this place for them it feels very spiritual. I hope they would never get rid of them.
    They are found at Praia do Barril 4 miles west of Tavira in the Algarve region of Portugal. A little train takes you across the spit of land that broke off during an earthquake years ago.
    It’s a really lovely area you must try and visit :)


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