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  • Writer's pictureCassie Hintz

FIESA: City of Sand (Photo Tour)

It felt like we had stepped onto an alien planet. As far as the eye could see, massive beige carvings reached to the stars. A sense of eeriness settled in the air.



The eeriness subsided, however, upon realizing that the carving next to me was of Tupac.


Tupac: The rose that grew from sand?

We weren’t on another planet – we were at FIESA, the International Sand Sculpture Festival and the “largest sand city” in the world. Located in the Algarve, in southern Portugal, FIESA is definitely a unique experience. The festival has been held annually since 2003, and features a different theme every year. The theme was music when I went in 2016.

David Bowie

David Bowie

Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa

Bob Marley

Bob Marley

Freddy Mercury

Freddy Mercury

Besides the artistry behind the project, the sheer scale of FIESA is what makes it impressive. More from the FIESA website:

The sand is hand-carved by a group of sculptors, of various nationalities, exploring different sculpting techniques, producing original pieces that stand out by their magnitude, technique and aesthetics. FIESA is regarded as the largest event of its kind in the world as it uses 40,000 tonnes of sand, covering 15,000 m², with some sculptures reaching 12 metres in height, reproducing in amazing detail representations of people, objects and different scenarios.


Amy Winehouse

Larger-than-life Amy Winehouse




The King.


Broadway tribute

I visited the sand-city with my parents, for my dad’s birthday. They were visiting me in Lagos for a couple of weeks, and my dad kept pointing out the posters for it, hinting “I wouldn’t mind going to that”.

Based on the sign, I had little idea what to expect.

My mom and I weren’t as enthused as my dad, but we went for his birthday, and we had a ton of fun. We were virtually the only people there, amplifying the feeling of being on another planet.


We were pretty excited when we found out they sell beer.

I enjoyed interacting with the sculptures.

We’re all mad here.

Dancing with the sculptures.

Broadway dreamz.

And mimicking the sculptures.

Nailed it.

The spitting image.

Which one is Cassie and which one is sand? Can you even tell?

The sculptures were interesting and eclectic, and we had a ball exploring this unique place. I highly recommend a visit if you’re in Portugal.

Rolling Stones tongue.

James Brown.

A very happy birthday-boy and I with an Elvis photobomb.

Peace out, FIESA.

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