Standing in Praça Gil Eanes, this statue by João Cutileiro has been described by the art historian José Augusto França as one of the most beautiful examples of sculpture to be found to the south of the River Tagus.
Inaugurated in 1972, it perpetuates the memory of Sebastian I, the king who raised Lagos to the category of a city in 1573 and later set sail from here in 1578 in a failed attempt to conquer Alcácer Quibir, in what turned out to be a fatal military expedition to Morocco. Two years after this defeat, King Philip II of Spain took over the Portuguese Crown and brought about the dynastic union that was to last until 1640.
The disappearance of King Sebastian led to the formation of the “Myth of Sebastianism”, which has endured in the memory of the people, being perpetuated in Portuguese literature and philosophy until the 20th century. The people refused to accept the king’s tragic and fatal destiny and believed that one day he could come back to them, walking towards them out of the fog.