Millions of years ago (125 million to be a bit more exact), large dinosaurs roamed in Sintra. Plant eating Saurôpodes and Ornitôpodes as well as meat eating Terôpodes, walked on these lands way before the Sintra Mountain was a mountain. They were all about 2.5meters tall only until the hip. We can now observe their footprints, some of which are a humongous 67cm tall and 60cm wide. Observing the path of the prints, we know that the vegetarian Saurôpodes with its elephant-like large body, long neck and small head walked between 6 to 7 km/hour. The Terôpodes who walked on two strong legs, of which only three of the four toes touch ground, walked about 2 kms/hour. It is fascinating to see the three distinct types of footprints, all different sizes, and all well conserved, on the vertical cliffs of Praia Grande do Rodízio. There are a total of 66 foot prints, 51 of them are in 11 tracks and the rest are isolated.
How they came to be
The dinosaurs did not of course walk like lizards, up the walls. They walked on muddy and horizontal ground, imprinting their footsteps on the ground that was then covered by layers of sediments. When the Sintra Mountain was formed, the grounds were deformed and raised – and consequently the top layers crumbled away, leaving once again the layer with the footprints uncovered for everyone to see.
And I mean everyone. Roughly a 370-step staircase leads from the South end of the beach up to the top of the cliffs, all along which these footprints are clear and easy to see.
How to get there
Those keen on seeing the footprints and not able to walk steps can see a part of them from the platform up top. This is accessible by car. The staircase is a part of Sintra’s E9/GR11 and PR7 footpaths, on the stretch between Praia da Adraga and Praia Grande. Praia Grande is served by the local Scotturb busses 439 and 441. The best time of the day to see the prints clearly is in the afternoon, when the sun hits the wall before setting down.
Also in Sintra
The Natural History Museum boasts of the only complete flying dinosaur, (Brasileodactylus Barbosensis), skeleton in the world. In addition to it, there are dinosaurs’ nests complete with eggs and a great collection of fossils in remarkable state – and even fragments of the Nantan meteorite that fell in China in the 16th century.
Add another dimension to your stay in Sintra and get a real Jurassic experience!