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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sete Cidades - Seven Cities

Today I will talk about Sete Cidades - Seven Cities, one of the most beautiful natural settings in the Azores Islands.
This natural beauty is composed of two lakes in the center of a volcanic crater about three miles across. Located on the west side of São Miguel Island, it is the most popular national park in the islands. The direction of the lake as of the photo runs from northeast to southwest and is 5 km in length and about 1 to 2 km in width. This volcano is one of the most active in the Azores in the last 5,000 years.

Looking from the edge of the crater to the lakes some 500 m (1,500 ft) below, one lake looks blue (reflecting the sky) and is called Lagoa Azul and the other appears green (reflecting the ground) and is named Lagoa Verde. According to a legend, the differently coloured lakes were created when a princess and her lover, a young shepherd, had to partfrom each other. The tears they shed at their farewell became the two lakes, with the water coloured like their eyes.

The two caldera lakes are one of the scenic highlights of the Azores. Since the first eruption about 20,000 years ago, 20 post-caldera eruptions have formed the 500 meters deep caldera walls. At the floor of the caldera six Holocene pyroclastic cones are located. A large group of pleistocene post-caldera trachytic lava domes, lava flows, and pyroclastic-flow deposits is found on the western-to-northern flanks. The most recent eruptions date to the 15th century. These eruptions occurred within the caldera and from submarine vents at the west coast of the island. There have been 4 Strombolian eruptions and 3 Surtseyan eruptions in history within a short distance of the shoreline.

The parish area is rectangular stretching from north to south. Farmlands of mainly pasture production are on the west and east with a forest in the middle. Piney forests cover the rest ot the area. One exception is near the farmlands in the west and along the central part of the lakes with a few forests except-for a tiny peninsula and along the bridge. A bridge is near the middle of the lake which provides access to the northwestern part of the island including Mosteiros. The parish is also accessible by an unlighted pedestrian tunnel through the crater. A small grassy area is to the southcentral portion of the shoreline and is surrounded by pine trees. There is another road connecting to the southwestern part of the island including Ponta Delgada.

Sete Cidades has a school, a church and a small square. The population in 2001 is 858, its density is 44.6/km² and the area is 19.22 km² mainly covering around the lake and the mountains near Sete Cidades. It is the smallest parish in population and the largest in area in Ponta Delgada.

There are mountaintops and hilltops including in the southwest, three west of Sete Cidades and around the lake.

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