Dinosaur Footprints of Praia Grande

Looking up at the cliff face, you might think that the footprints were made by lizards climbing up a wall. However, the prints were laid down on a flat muddy lake bed over 100 million years ago. Two-legged dinosaurs left their prints in the mud, which then fossilized and the ground folded by tectonic movement, forming the Sintra hills. Now, they are exposed for two-legged mammals to admire!

There are loads of footprints on the cliff face: 11 tracks of 51 footprints, with another 15 isolated tracks. They are mostly three-toed prints, made by therapod dinosaurs that walked on two legs. They are likely iguanodon or megalosaurus. There are some sauropod prints as well, made by four-legged dinosaurs. The fossils date back 125 million years.

Location

Praia Grande do Rodízio beach is near the village of Colares, in Sintra municipality, Lisbon district. The footprints are on a cliff right beside the beach, at the south end of the beach.

Access

There is a staircase leading from the beach to the top of the cliff. There are signs on the beach saying the path is closed because of unstable cliffs, and threatening a fine. People do risk both injury & death, as well as the fine, by using the stairs.

From the top of the cliff, there are similar signs but also one (in Portuguese and English) that says the path is only to be used to view the fossils. There is a viewing platform just below the fossils …which has been destroyed by rock fall.

Signage

There is a notice board on the beach with information (in Portuguese) about the footprints. The access at the top of the cliff is from the “Rua das Pegadas dos Dinossauros” (Street of the Dinosaur Footprints), but that road sign is not visible from the main road (Estrada do Rodízio).

Links

Nearby

The coast of Portugal is well known for fossils, but they are generally found north of Lourinhá (90km away). There is an excellent collection of fossils in Sintra’s Natural History Museum.

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