Estoril

   Composed of the towns of São Pedro, São João, Monte Estoril, and Estoril, and located about 32 kilometers (15 miles) west of Lisbon along the coast, Estoril forms the heart of a tourist region. Once described in tourist literature as the Sun Coast (Costa do Sol), this coast—in order not to be confused with a region with a similar name in neighboring Spain (Costa del Sol)—has been renamed the "Lisbon Coast." Its origins go back to several developments in the late 19th century that encouraged the building of a resort area that would take advantage of the coast's fine climate and beaches from Carcav-elos to Cascais. Sporty King Carlos I (r. 1889-1908) and his court liked summering in Cascais (apparently the first tennis in Portugal was played here), then only a simple fishing village. There are medicinal spring waters in Estoril, and the inauguration (1889) of a new train line from Lisbon to Cascais provided a convenient way of bringing in visitors before the age of automobiles and superhighways.
   As a high-class resort town, Estoril was developed beginning in the 1920s and 1930s, due in part to the efforts of the entrepreneur Fausto de Figueiredo, whose memorial statue graces the now famous Casino Gardens. Soon Estoril possessed a gambling casino, restaurants, and several fine hotels.
   Estoril's beginnings as a small but popular international resort and watering spot were slow and difficult, however, and what Estoril became was determined in part by international economy and politics. The resort's backers and builders modeled Estoril to a degree on Nice, a much larger, older, and better-known resort in the French Riviera. The name "Estoril," in fact, which was not found on Portuguese maps before the 20th century, was a Portuguese corruption of the French word for a mountain range near Nice. Estoril hotel designs, such as that of reputedly the most luxurious hotel outside Lisbon, the Hotel Palácio-Estoril, looked to earlier hotel designs on the French Riviera.
   It was remarkable, too, that Estoril's debut as a resort area with full services (hotels, casino, beach, spa) and sports (golf, tennis, swimming) happened to coincide with the depth of the world Depression (1929-34) that seemed to threaten its future. Less expensive, with a more reliably mild year-round climate and closer to Great Britain and North America than the older French Riviera, the "Sun Coast" that featured Estoril had many attractions. The resort's initial prosperity was guaranteed when large numbers of middle-class and wealthy Spaniards migrated to the area after 1931, during the turbulent Spanish Republic and subsequent bloody Civil War (1936-39). World War II (when Portugal was neutral) and the early stages of the Cold War only enhanced the Sun Coast's resort reputation. After 1939, numbers of displaced and dethroned royalty from Europe came to Portugal to live in a sunny, largely tax-free climate. In the early 1950s, Estoril's casino became known to millions of readers and armchair travelers when it was featured in one of the early James Bond books by Ian Fleming, Casino Royale (1953). In the 1980s and 1990s, the Casino was expanded and rehabilitated, while the Hotel Palacio Estoril was given a face-lift along with a new railroad station and the addition of more elegant restaurants and shops. In 2003, in the Estoril Post Office building, a Museum of Exiles and Refugees of World War II was opened.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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