There is however, more to this story, than astounding views, which makes it a noteworthy hidden gem.
In 1930, Aleister Crowley, a famed magician and occultist faked his own suicide at Boca do Inferno, with the help of the poet Fernando Pessoa. Pessoa handed Crowley’s suicide note to authorities, media and newspapers. Strangely, the mystic re-appeared three weeks later at his own exhibition in Berlin, which suggested that his faked suicide was merely a publicity stunt. It is also suggested that he concocted this plan to fake his own death in order to escape his girlfriend at the time, whom he was tired of. The instance was perhaps inspired by the death of Empedocles, who threw himself into a volcano.
Crowley’s strange friendship with Pessoa has sparked many questions over the years as the mystery of Boca do Inferno remains unresolved for the most part. Their friendship lasted two years, with the exchanging of many letters and ended with this suicide note. The mysterious note has actually been re-written at Boca do Inferno, where there is a white plaque mounted on the rock commemorating the event. The Portuguese text on the plaque was derived from the original suicide note and reads “I cannot live without you. The other mouth of Hell that will catch me will not be as hot as yours”, a bold statement which actually turned out to be a con.
The name translates to “Mouth of Hell” due to its rare scenic cliff formation. It was originally a sea cave which collapsed leaving a chasm and sea arch. “Mouth of Hell” comes from the way the ocean waves crash violently against and inside the cliff’s mouth and the incredible impact that the waves have. The characteristic that composes the rock in the cliff is of a carbonated nature. The erosion exerted by the action of rainwater which, containing dissolved carbon dioxide, causes the carbonate to dissolve. Through this process cavities and caves are formed inside the limestones and it is quite possible that the site was an ancient cave. The “Mouth of Hell” became famed due to actually appearing in the thirteen second silent ‘reality’ film under the name of “A sea cave near Lisbon” (1896), which showcases the majestic waves pouring in.
Nonetheless, this hidden gem is definitely worth your while to visit for its dramatic viewing point to watch the sunset. It has also been a spot to watch storms for the last hundred years. It is free to visit but it is worthy to note, that the cliffs are dangerous and that the viewpoint is sometimes closed in winter if there is bad weather as people can be swept off the cliff.
It is definitely better to visit in Summer as a calm and sunny day emphasises the idyllic nature of this spot and it is the perfect place to visit with family and friends. Boca do Inferno is easily reached and has plenty of parking so can be accessed by car or by foot as it is 20 minutes’ walk from the town centre. It also has a seafood restaurant called ‘Mar do Inferno’ that boasts good reviews and has a cheaper alternative of a café, so a lovely place for its sights and food.
It is a magical place which holds testimony to its relationship with the Atlantic and its proximity to Lisbon and it is here that we find the most the geological evidence of erosion.
Boca do Inferno, reminds us of the constant battle between land and sea, as the waves crash against the arch, bringing together Portuguese mysticism and maritime conquest.