In 1229 the Village of Ericeira received a first Charter and later in 1513 a second one, recognizing its importance as fishing village as well as a commercial port. During the XVII and XVIII centuries it played an important role as the fourth custom-house of the country, with more than one thousand seamen and hundreds of trade ships. His name Ericeira ( Eyriceira – Oyriceira) philologically means “Place of Sea-Urchins” making allusion to the rich populations of these “shell-fish” on the rocky shores of their beaches ( unfortunately not so evident today, due to over exploiting). Hence, this animal is the motive of the crest of the Village.
The climate of Ericeira is peculiar not only because is said that the air is extremely rich in iodine originated in the huge “Laminaria” fields ( large marine algae) on his shores but also as generally in the Summer, even in the hottest days, there is almost always an evening breeze which refreshes the nights. Due to this, by the end of the Nineteen Century, several Lisbon families came to spend their summer holydays in this small Village not very far from Lisbon.
Although Ericeira was a fishermen village, there are some remarkable buildings by their architectural and artistic interest: The most singular is the small chapel of São Sebastião “ Ermida de São Sebastião”, in the northern part of the village, near the beach of the same name. Presumably from the XIII century and restored in 1678 it was built in hexagonal shape with a whitish dome. Inside, the walls are covered by precious XVII century polychromatic tiles. Due to these rich historic and artistic features it was declared national monument.
Another interesting chapel is near the fishermen beach in the center of the village, devoted to Saint Anthony and to the Lady of good voyage dating from the XVII century. It is worth to admire the interior walls decorated with glossy polychromatic tiles. Each year in August there is a festival on that chapel in praise of the Lady of Good Voyage (Nossa Senhora da Boa Viagem), with a very typical boat procession inside the port.
Also the parish church of Saint Peter is artistically interesting. It was built at the same time of Mafra’s Monastery and the altars are decorated with rich gilt carved wood. In the walls we can see several beautiful religious picture panels in tiles.
The Fortress of Ericeira in the northern cliff of the fishermen beach, was raised in 1645 to defend with his coast artillery the village and harbour not only from the Spanish marine vessels in the following years of the restoration of our independence, but also from regular plundering of Algerian pirates. These, generally seek to capture local fishermen, and take them to Algeria as slaves or captives, to receive a money ransom afterwards.
Finally, the pillory (pelourinho) in the typical portuguese Manuelino’s style and the “Cruzeiro” erected in 1940 to celebrate the dates of both Charters of Ericeira in the supposed central place of the old village.