Until the 18th century the sea covered the present-day site of Nazaré; locals lived at this cliff-top area 110m above the beach. Today this tourist-filled promontory is popular for its tremendous views, the lighthouse and its religious associations. From Rua do Elevador, north of the turismo, an ascensor climbs up the hill to Promontório do Sítio; it's nice to walk back down, escaping the crowds of trinket-sellers. There are plenty of places to stay and eat up on the cliff-top too.
On a foggy day in 1182, local nobleman Dom Fuas Roupinho was in pursuit of a deer when the animal disappeared off the edge of the Sítio precipice. Dom Fuas cried out to the Virgin, whose sculpture was venerated in a nearby cave, for help, and his horse miraculously stopped right at the cliff's edge; the mark of one of its horseshoes is still visible. In what is a much-repeated story in the Iberian peninsula, Dom Fuas built the small Hermida da Memória chapel on the edge of the drop-off to commemorate the event and house the sculpture. It was later visited by a number of VIP pilgrims, including Vasco da Gama. The statue is now housed in the grander church across the square.