When Estoril was the meeting place for spies
The Duke of Windsor, the Spanish royal family, the king of Romania, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Leslie Howard, Ian Fleming, Dušan Popov, Garbo... settle in Estoril during the Second World War... They will be a source of inspiration for the character of James Bond!
Portugal during the World War II
When World War II broke out in 1939, Portugal was living under an authoritarian political regime led by António de Oliveira Salazar: the Estado Novo. If you want to learn more about Salazar, please visit our article: 11 famous Portuguese people you have heard of.
The Portuguese state affirmed its neutrality by signing a non-aggression treaty with Franco's Spain and refusing to join the alliance between Germany, Italy and Japan.
Salazar, not wishing to displease either England or Nazi Germany, promised the British that he would not take any action against the Jews in Portugal and, at the same time, forbade the granting of visas to those being hunted by the Nazi regime.
Portugal became a place of transit for refugees on their way to the United States, but also a destination for those who were persecuted. Exiled statesmen, kings without a throne, writers, artists, thinkers, businessmen, but also thousands of anonymous people found refuge in the area of Cascais-Estoril because of the many hotels and pensions of all kinds that were located there.
In Estoril, the Duke of Windsor, the Spanish royal family, the King of Romania, Carol II, the Regent of Hungary, Miklós Horthy, the Queen of Bulgaria... but also more troubled characters.
Estoril, meeting place for spies.
while the Grande Hotel da Itália, in Monte Estoril, and the Palácio Hotel are favorites of the Allies.
Dušan Popov, the spy who inspired James Bond.
Dušan Popov is an agent recruited by the Abwehr to spy in the United Kingdom but who passes on a mixture of true and false information after also being recruited by the British secret service. He often travels to Portugal where his German liaison officer contacts him at the Hotel Palacio casino in Estoril.
Popov would later be recognized as the most extraordinary double agent of the Second World War and Ian Fleming would become the successful writer of the James Bond saga. In 1969, the Hotel Palácio d'Estoril hosted the James Bond movie "On Her Majesty's Service".
Garbo, the spy rewarded by the Nazis and by the British.
Garbo, whose real name is Joan Pujol Garcia, is considered the greatest double agent of the Second World War. He persuaded the Germans that he was spying for them in England when in fact he was in Portugal giving them false information. As such, he was awarded the German Iron Cross in July 1944.
In reality, his mission with MI5 consisted in spreading false information to the Abwehr about the Normandy landings, making the Nazis believe that it was only a decoy and that the real landing would take place two weeks later in the Pas de Calais. As such, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire by King George VI in November 1944.
Estoril, nest of spies.
Discover the mythical places of espionage in Estoril.
Many of the places that saw German, British and American spies walk around still exist in Estoril. The Cascais Tourist Office publishes a small guide to help you discover them. Here it is, but it is also available on the website www.visitcascais.com
In 1939, the "Atlantico" hotel, now the Intercontinental Hotel, was bought by a German industrialist named Wortus. From then on, it served as a base of operations for German spies who took advantage of the view of the sea to control maritime traffic to the port of Lisbon. The shortage of accommodation led to some Jewish families settling in the hotel, which led to strong tensions.
Hôtel Atlantico (Lado do mar) - Monte Estoril
The Hotel Palácio is one of the few hotels that still has its original style. The lounge of this hotel was the favorite place of the allies and their spies spoke loudly. On the other hand, microphones have been found on the walls, under the carpets, in the lamps... Ian Fleming, a British intelligence officer, frequented the bar and the Casino.