Portugal's southwest coast presents a series of sand beaches interspersed with rocky cliffs of great visual and aesthetic grandeur. It is the most beautiful stretch of the Portuguese maritime coast, both for its beaches and the high cliffs, from the top of which great landscapes and wide horizons can be seen.
In August 2009, I was walking along the coast of Aljezur in the Algarve when I was surprised by these mesmerizing cliffs. Ann Radcliffe's (1764-1823) The Mysteries of Udolpho, "a romance interspersed with some pieces of poetry" in her own words, came to my mind. English Gothic fiction novelist and pioneer Ann Radcliffe published this work in 1794. The romance is set in the 16th century and a Gothic castle, but the text also includes descriptions of the Pyrenees and Apennines' landscapes and Venice.
In this city, in a large house, Emily St. Aubert, the main character of the novel, "charmed with everything she saw", "reached her chamber, spacious, desolate, and lofty, like the rest, with high lattices that opened towards the Adriatic". "It brought gloomy images to her mind, but the view of the Adriatic soon gave her others more airy, among which was that of the sea-nymph, whose delights she had before amused herself with picturing; and, anxious to escape from serious reflections, she now endeavoured to throw her fanciful ideas into a train, and concluded the hour with composing the following lines: THE SEA-NYMPH / Down, down a thousand fathom deep, / Among the sounding seas I go; / Play round the foot of every steep / Whose cliffs above the ocean grow.". Portugal's southwest maritime coast is impressive and makes us evoke extraordinary, fantastic and mythological characters and ideas.