Sunday, December 30, 2007

Gastronomy - Graciosa - Traditional Food Specialities

It is the fish that abounds off its coasts that holds the place of honour in the cooking of Graciosa, in the form of delicious fish stews and baked parrot fish. The local lobsters and spider-crabs are an exquisite meal in themselves while the smaller crabs and goose barnacles can serve as tasty appetisers.


The focal sweets are rich and varied and include not only cheese-cakes (queijadas) but specialities with such names as encharcados de ovos, capuchas, bolos de junça, cavacas, barrigas, pastéis de arroz, escomilhas and massa sovada, the last mentioned being connected with the Holy Ghost Festivals.
To accompany the meal there is the famous white wine of Graciosa, light, dry and fruity, or then the wine called vinho de cheiro that accompanies all the festivals in the island. The brandy, aged in casks, is an excellent digestive and those who like sweet drinks have the locally produced wine called angelica.

"Biscoitos" vines.
The first settlers came from lands where vine growing was a centuries-old tradition. When they saw the lava beds called biscoitos - sunny and only slightly damp, that covered part of the island, they immediately set to work and by dint of hard work managed to plant there the vine shoots brought from the continent. This marked the birth, in the early 16th century, of the vineyards that cut the landscape up into rectangles of black stone. The phylloxera ravaged the vineyards in the 19th century but the initial verdelho strain was joined by arinto and later by terrantês, which ensured the survival of the vines on the island.

Festivals - Graciosa Island - Azores

The enthusiasm and colour of Portuguese pilgrimages is renewed every year in the Festivals of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres, held at the town of Santa Cruz da Graciosa, which is specially decorated for the occasion. The ceremonies attract people from all over Graciosa and from other islands as well as Azorean emigrants in North America. They are held every year in August.


The Festivals of the Holy Ghost are a symbol of the devotion of the Azoreans and an expression of a cult with medieval roots. They enliven the villages on Sundays with the procession of the "emperor", the showy decoration of the chapel called "theatre" or "empire" and the "bodo" or banquet in which wine and food are distributed. The festivals are repeated all over the island after Whistsun and they join together local residents and outsiders in the same religious and festive spirit.

Sporting Holidays - Graciosa Island - Azores

Two small beaches of soft sand at Praia and a natural pool at Carapacho, formed by volcanic rocks, satisfy the needs of lovers of swimming, sunshine and the sea. Praia and Santa Cruz da Graciosa offer good natural conditions for the practice of sailing, windsurfing and water skiing.

It is nevertheless the marine depths along the coast of Graciosa that provide the major attraction for those who like to spend their holidays practising sports. Because the transparent waters hide grottoes and rocks with strange shapes and varied colours, covered with seaweed and molluscs, And the wealth of fish, of all sizes and colours, thrills divers and makes them feel they have plunged into a world made up of shining shoals. The whole coast of Graciosa provides excellent conditions for diving. Fishing from rocks or boats allows interesting catches of barracuda, oceanic bonito, scorpion-fish, conger eel. bream, amberjack, comber, fork beard, moray eel, grouper, wrasse, pork-fish, perch, octopus and lobster. Hunters can set their sights on rabbits, quail and pigeons.

The Windmills - Graciosa Island - Azores

The landscape of Graciosa attracts and fascinates the visitor. It is made up of plains, round hills covered with trees, vineyards lying between dark stone walls, chequered fields of tilled land and the constant presence of the blue sea. What also attracts and fascinates is the atmosphere of calm isolation that is lived and felt, the unusual situation of an island that is almost cut off from the world and where life maintains the rhythm of the seasons.

The windmills
The arms and wooden lattices which are covered with cloth when greater speed is desired or the wind is weak. The walls of the cone-like trunk are while-washed. The door and the small windows are edged in blue or red. The whole is covered by an onion-shaped dome ending in a point. That is what the picturesque windmills of Graciosa are like. Flapping their wings at the tops of hills, particularly in the Praia area, they can be considered the true symbol of the island.
The outline and shape of these windmills recall those which for centuries ground flour or pumped water in the fields of northern Europe. But is their origin connected with the presence of Flemings in the settlement of the Azores? The answer to this question is neither simple nor positive. It is known that in the Azores wheat was formerly ground by water-mills where streams existed or by mills where the stones were moved by patient oxen or donkeys. These mills - which are still in operation in some islands - were a royal privilege entrusted, as a reward, to the captains-donees and nobles. It was only with the end of absolutism in the early l9th century that milling was freed from feudal rights and made tax-free. Researchers believe that the first windmill was built in 1818 at the initiative of a priest on Terceira island. Others followed and the windmills spread all over the archipelago, except for the island of Flores where there are many water-mills.


The windmills used in the Azores vary from island to island. On Graciosa it is the dome that is moved to accompany the direction of the wind, using for the purpose a long wooden pole that almost touches the ground. On Faial, for example, it is the whole body of the windmill, built of wood and other light materials, that rotates on the stone tower on which it is based. The enigma of the origin of the windmills of the Azores therefore remains But the windmills fit so well into the green landscape that they deserve to have been there at the very beginning, awaiting the first settlers.

Hills, Islets and Caverns - Graciosa Island

The landscape of Graciosa attracts and fascinates the visitor. It is made up of plains, round hills covered with trees, vineyards lying between dark stone walls, chequered fields of tilled land and the constant presence of the blue sea. What also attracts and fascinates is the atmosphere of calm isolation that is lived and felt, the unusual situation of an island that is almost cut off from the world and where life maintains the rhythm of the seasons.

The hills
With the names of Serra Dormida, Serra Branca and Serra das Fontes, these hills are like belvederes, affording views of the island and sea. Low-lying the altitude of Pico Timão is only 398 metres while that of Serra do Facho is 375 metres - with soft curved lines, covered with their original vegetation of beech-trees, heather, incense, vinhático and also Japanese cedars, they are the natural framework for restful walks, communion with Nature and quiet picnics.

The islets
Rocks inhabited by birds that crop out in the sea, they are one of the charms of Graciosa, surprises that await the visitor at the end of a bay or a cape. The most suggestive is Baleia (literally, Whale), which looks like a giant mammal anchored by the shore. The others have names such as Bordo do Pico, Gaivotas, Pesqueira, Vermelho, Comprido, Grande and Agulha.


The caverns
The insides of the island can be viewed from other places, less spectacular than the Sulphur Cavern (Furna do Enxofre) no doubt, but still fascinating. Because here and there you will find more or less deep fissures that invite braver persons to discover the secrets of the volcanic formation of Graciosa. Such is the case of the caverns (Furnas) of Bolos, Linheiro, Manuel d'Avila, Lembradeira, Queimado, Labarda, Cardo, Cão, Gato, Castelo, Calcinhas, Vermelho, Urze, Furada and Luis. Recommended: equipament and a guide.

Sulphur Cavern - Furna do Enxofre - Graciosa

The landscape of Graciosa attracts and fascinates the visitor. It is made up of plains, round hills covered with trees, vineyards lying between dark stone walls, chequered fields of tilled land and the constant presence of the blue sea. What also attracts and fascinates is the atmosphere of calm isolation that is lived and felt, the unusual situation of an island that is almost cut off from the world and where life maintains the rhythm of the seasons.

Sulphur Cavern
Volcanological phenomenon, geologically unique in the world. In the interior of Caldeira, the crater of a former volcano, there is a deep tunnel with a depth of about 100 metres. At the bottom lies a huge grotto, with an 80 metres high vault covered with stalactites and an underground lake of cold, sulphurous water with a diameter of about 130 metres and a maximum depth of 15 metres. Besides the entrance tunnel there are two other openings in the flanks of the crater. You can walk down the tunnel by a stone stairway, The recommended visiting time is between 11 a.m. and 2 pm., when the sunlight penetrates the interior of the cavern and creates dazzling effects.


From inside the Furna do Enxofre (Sulphur Cavern) lookup up at the cave entrace. The stone tower to the right contains the stairway you use to get down to it.

Prince Albert of Monaco, the famous l9th century oceanographer who led several expeditions in the waters of the Azores, was one of the first visitors of the cavern, having gone down into it by a rope ladder in 1879.
After visiting the Sulphur Cavern you should walk about Caldeira and circle its crater. Magnificent vistas. Possibility of catching sight of the islands of Terceira, São Jorge, Pico and Faial.

Art and History of Graciosa - Graciosa Island

Santa Cruz da Graciosa
Picturesque, while-washed town framed in foam and blue by the sea. Streets with manor-houses, many of them with but one storey, constituting an interesting group representative of rural architecture. At the centre of the town there are two large tanks, in times gone by used as water reservoirs for cattle, and a cluster of araucarias and elm-trees. Places to visit: Parish church; Church of Santo Cristo; Belfry; Cruz da Barra (cross) ; Chapels of Monte da Ajuda and the Ethnographic House.

Guadalupe
Typical, rural village, with white-washed houses set among flowers. The chapel of São Miguel Arcanjo (18th c.) is worthy of a visit. The Church of Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe. 18th c. building. Lively facade, in the baroque taste of the Azores. High and side altars. Glided, carved woodwork. Images.
Luz. White houses facing the sea, with the green heights of Caldeira in the background. The Church of Nossa Senhora da Luz. 17th c. building reconstructed in the 18th c. Ceiling of the chancel. High altar. Sculptured woodwork.

Praia
Old town streets and buildings recall its past importance. Picturesque fishing port. Opposite lies Praia islet, covered with vegetation and worth visiting by boat.

Vitória
Picturesque village.

The Graciosa panels
Masterpieces of Portuguese "primitive" painting of the 16th century. The artist is unknown, although they have been attributed to Cristóvão de Figueiredo. Five of the panels are on the theme of the Cross of Christ - the Way of the Cross, Erection of the Cross, Calvary, Invention of the Cross and Exaltation of the Cross - which suggests that they were specially ordered for the church of Santa Cruz, where they are to be found, The sixth panel, on Pentecost, shows the Virgin, the Apostles and the Holy Women receiving the light and fire of the Holy Ghost, which fits into the Azorean cult of the Holy Ghost, present since the start of settlement.


Discovery of Graciosa - Graciosa History

The date of the discovery of Graciosa is doubtful, it is probable that it has been discover by sailors from the neighboring island of Terceira. It´s known only that was conquered by the order of the Infante Don Enrique, and in the middle of XVth century already were in it colonizing, being a pioneer Vasco Gil Sodré, of Montemor-o-Velho, with his family and his servants, he constructed his house in the same place where Carapacho settle. In spite of the formalities done by Sodré to receive the donation of the island, the Capitanería of the north part of Graciosa was granted to Pedro Correia da Cunha, brother-in-law of Christopher Colón, and the southern part to Duarte de Barreto.

The increase of the population - according to some historians came from Beiras and Minho and also Flanders-, as well as the prosperity of the island, makes Santa Cruz to receive the letter of burgo in 1486; while Praia received this distinction in 1546. The names of the big families that contributed to the accession and the growth of the island t are still today in the island.

Since XVIth century dedicated to the agriculture and to the grapevine, Graciosa exports, wheat, chicory, wine and brandy. With agricultural economy predominance, it made all its trade with Terceira that had a port frequented by ships of strong tonnage and was the economic and administrative center.

Graciosa suffered numerous assaults and corsairs' plunders during the XVIIIth century, but also historical personalities have visited it throughout centuries. The first one was Father António Vieira that, in 1654, after the shipwreck of the ship that was transporting him to Lisboa, near the island of Curved, was gathered by a Dutch corsair who took him to Graciosa, where he remained for two months. Later came the French writer Chateaubriand, who did a stop in the island during his escape to America in the time of the French Revolution, and he refers in some of his works his time in Graciosa.

Almeida Garett

The poet Almeida Garett resided also in Graciosa in 1814, when he was 15 years, after a visit to his uncle judge of the King; he wrote some texts that prove his talent. Finally, in 1879, came the Prince Alberto of Monaco to the Island to make his acquaintances works of hydrography and study of marine life.

Beign an island dedicated to the agriculture, the cattle and the production of milk, Graciosa keeps its characteristics of rural and calm island, and taking part of the progress of Azores.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Azores Bullfighting - Touradas á Corda - Another View - Azores

Terceira, ( along with a few other islands ), is well known for bullfight by the rope ( Touradas á corda ).
This very special event is unique to the Azores, and has been practiced since 16th Century. From May to October there will be about 250 events on the Azores. The bull is let loose with a very long rope around its neck, usually at the main road in a small village. Before every bull is getting out of a wooden crate, there will belaunched a small rocket which makes a loud noise. This signal indicates, that there is a bull on the street, and the game is ready to begin. The bull is guided by several experienced men, keeping a grip at the rope.
The whole idea is, that the local young men now try to get as close to the bull as they dare, teasing the bull which is getting agitated. All this game is very amusing and dangerous, and in a way also an attempt for the local boys to impress the local girls.


After a while the bull is taken back to the wooden crate as it arrived in, and another rocket will be launched, announcing a break in the game. Now it's time to move around, have something to eat, a drink ( or several ), or leave the village.

This is an outstanding local event, and attracts many many people. As a tourist you should arrive in due time.
Find a secure place with a good view. Usually there iare a total of 3-4 bulls in every event. To find out where and when this event take place, ask the tourist office or at the local bar. Every local knows.


If there is bullfighting in the arena when you are there, you really must go there and try to get a ticket. There are bullfighter arenas on Terceira and Graciosa. It's a great opportunity to watch bullfight in another way than the Spanish. The bull is not to be killed. The Toreador will place small " blades " on the back of the bull like in Spain, but only until a certain point in the game.

Then 6-7 other men enter the arena. One of them walks bravely and slowly towards the bull. Now the bull starts running fast directly against this man to attack him. Just before the bull is hitting the man in the belly, he grab around the bulls neck with both arms, trying to stop the bull. Now the other men stand behind him, preventing him from falling. One man grabbing the bulls tail, forcing the bull turning round, and makes the bull stand still.
To get the bull out of the arena, 3-4 cows now enter the arena. Of cause that interests the bull, who now follows the cows out of the arena.


That's all. Hard to understand?. Well, it's hard to explain ! I find it very amusing to watch, and I can warmly recom-mend to go and see it. It's far more human to watch than Spanish bullfighting.

After the game is over, the bull is taken to the vet to be taken care of. After this the bull continue its normal life in thecountryside.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Gastronomy - Terceira Island - Traditional Food Specialities - Azores

A trading emporium frequented for centuries by galleons and other ships from exotic lands, Terceira saw its food lose its initial frugality during the 16th and 17th centuries. Over the years other influences came, adding the present richness and refinement to the island's gastronomy. These influences range from the presence of Spanish troops for almost 80 years, the liberal emigrants from absolutism and the Englishmen connected with the "orange trade", to the conventual recipes for sweets and liqueurs. The meat specialities called Holy Ghost soups, alcatra and cozido, as well as the wine known as vinho de cheiro, are connected with the festivities that animate the whole island in the summer. Having a place in the festivals is also massa sovada or kneaded dough, which is baked into biscuits of various shapes including some with the forms of animals and human beings, Other delicious dishes are caldeirada (fish stew) with apples, sarapatel (haggis) and morcela (a kind of sausage) as well as the various traditional recipes for octopus, rabbit (with a special sauce called molho de vilão), crabs, goose barnacles and limpets.

Massa Sovada

But cooking on Terceira reaches perfection in the form of the over two hundred recipes for sweets. Most of these sweetmeats, such as donas-amélias and coscorões, are made in accordance with conventual traditions. Fresh cheeses made from goat's milk and the Ilha cheese made from cow's milk put a fine finish to a meal. As regards wines, Porto Martins and Pesqueiro produce a verdelho while that of Biscoitos enjoys great local fame.

Confections
Sugar paste, mixed with water and a drop of vinegar, is transformed by the skilled hands of women confectioners into flowers, doves, chickens, swans, rabbits and calves - a varied, sweet and fantastic world of sugar. These sweetmeats are associated with the Festivals of the Holy Ghost and those of the patron saints, and are often used as an ex-voto of thanks for miracles obtained. In the latter case the confection takes the shape of the part of the human body that has been cured (a breast, arm, leg, etc.). These sweetmeats are long-lasting and therefore, when not consumed by visitors with a sweet tooth, make an original souvenir of Terceira.

Sweet potatoes
The mild climate of the Azores and its position as a port of call from the 15th to the 17th centuries enabled Terceira to add to the traditional European crops of the time new plants brought from other continents. This led to the fact that early in the 16th century, before it was introduced in Europe, the sweet potato was being planted in Terceira, whence it spread to the other islands. For the same reasons maize, yams and potatoes have been part of the diet of Azoreans from those early times.


Folk Art - Terceira Island - Azores

Feminine hands embroider linen with traditional motifs in which blue and green flowers predominate. They also make dainty lace, artificial flowers and the typical caps worn by shepherds. The men, on the other hand, account for the wickerwork, pottery, objects of daily use made from the island's cedarwood, ornaments made from animal horns, tin articles, colourful slippers, practical galoshes and the guitars that are heard on feast days.

The counterpanes made on looms
The weaving tradition on Terceira dates back to the settlement period, when families depended on home-made woollen and linen cloth to make their own clothing.
The heavy old looms are still used to make woollen counterpanes in many colours and with geometrical designs. These counterpanes are used all over the island to cover beds and also to decorate windows on festive occasions.

The "empires" of the Holy Ghost
The colourful chapels known as impérios (empires) or teatros (theatres) of the Holy Ghost, with their showy decorations and fantastic shapes, contrast with the whiteness of the villages of Terceira and are one of the most consummate and interesting forms of Azorean popular architecture and of the peculiarities of the local way of fife and feelings.
Spread all over the island - where there are over fifty of them - most of these impérios date from the 19th century, when they replaced the original ones, part of which, it is supposed, were wooden affairs that could be put together and taken apart. Annexed to the "empires" are the "larders", where the bread, meat and wine to be used in the festivals is kept; some of them have allegorical decorations.
At the top of their facades the "empires" have a white dove or crown. The windows are large, usually with wrought iron gratings. Inside are the altar, with the niche where the crown and plate are placed, and the tables used by the members of the Brotherhood to receive alms and to offer food and wine to anyone they want to.

The houses with their curious chimneys
The fact that most of the settlers of Terceira came from the Alentejo and Algarve in southern Portugal is revealed by the rural houses, with their white walls and coloured edgings along the doors, windows and corners. Made up of dressed stones forming a rectangular parallelepiped which ends in a wedge, the chimneys are called mão-postas by the people. To prevent rain from entering, many have a terminal part made of bricks or tiles. Typical, too, are the "aprons" of dressed stone; rounded or of straight lines, they come down from the window sill and end in a fleur-de-lis, point or rosette.
Every house in Terceira has a surrounding garden and next to it is the burra de milho where the ears of maize are kept when they are not simply hung from the branches of trees, which offers a unique and unexpected sight.

Bullfighting on a Rope - Terceira Island - Azores

The bullfighting tradition on Terceira goes back to the 16th century, due to the abundance of cattle at that time over 100,000 head, say the chroniclers - the fact that the first settlers came from provinces where bullfighting was deep-rooted and the later Castilian presence. This is why bullfighting has been practised for centuries in Terceira, the only island where bullfights are now held. It is also why a unique technique has been developed there, one that is perfectly adapted to the local conditions, the skill of the bullfighters and the tastes of the population. We are referring to the always merry and lively "bullfighting on a rope", in which the movements of the bull are conditioned by a rope held by a group of men, formerly called mascarados da corda (masked men of the rope), The bull, bred on the pastures in the central region of line island and chosen for his ability to follow figures and be cunning, has his horns padded and is then let loose in the streets of the parish, the windows and balconies of which are crowded with people on that day. Fireworks are discharged and men and bull immediately start running about, with steps that are sometimes luckier than others.


"Parasol lucky" is the colourful name that has been given to one of the manoeuvres that have been devised: it consists in putting the parasol up suddenly in front of the bull and trying to avoid his horns in the subsequent charge, while the men on the rope moderate its momentum…when they themselves are not dragged along or deliberately give the bull a little more freedom to liven up the show. "Bullfighting on a rope" has evolved with the passing of time, and one of its most recent forms - although even it is already at least forty years old - is that of bullfights by the sea, on beaches and shallows where boats are run upon for repairs. In it, everyone, including the bull, takes repeated bathes in salt water in the midst of the laughs, shouts and hisses of the spectators.

The St. John's Festivals or "City's Festival" - Terceira Island - Azores

Connected with the traditions of the so-called Popular Saints - St. Anthony, St. John and St. Peter - with the passage of the years these festivals have been turned into bullfighting events, with lively "bullfights on ropes", the setting loose of bulls in the streets and performances by toreadores, on horse and on foot, in the arena. The St. John's Festivals usually include an ethnographic procession with old farm implements, folk costumes and the typical vehicles called carros de toldo. The festivals last for several days around St. John's Day, 24th June. They are held in Angra do Heroismo City.

Holy Ghost Festivals - Terceira Island - Azores

Besides the various pilgrimages, the picturesque ranchos dos Reis or groups who travel over the parishes singing Christmas carols, and the lively Carnival dances, the Festivals of the Holy Ghost are the events that best express the feelings of the people of Terceira.

Holy Ghost Festivals

Linked to Franciscan mysticism and the charitable spirit of Queen St. Elizabeth of Portugal (16th c.), the Festivals of the Holy Ghost came to the Azores with the first settlers. The invocation of the Holy Ghost at the time of the natural catastrophes that struck the archipelago and the fame of the consequent miracles, together with the hard life and isolation of the islands, all contributed to making the devotion sink deep roots and persist in the Azores although it has disappeared in Portugal with rare exceptions. Moreover, Azorean emigrants carried the devotion to Brazil, America and Africa, where the old ceremonies are now repeated in all their traditional splendour. The Holy Ghost Festivals are also held in Hawaii, where there is a large Azorean community.


Of a charitable nature, the festivals are aimed at distributing food to the needy. Everything starts on Trinity Sunday with the drawing of the names among the "brothers" to determine who will be the mordomos or stewards of the festival in the following year.

The first to be chosen keeps the insignia of the Holy Ghost (crown and sceptre on a silver plate) in his house until Low Sunday, when the festivities begin with balhos or dances accompanied by guitars and singing while the "throne" of the Holy Ghost is set up and profusely decorated in the "stateroom", the main apartment of the house. The "coronation" ceremony is then held in the parish church, the crown is placed on the head of a child or adult - the "emperor" - who carries in procession the symbols of his dignity to the house of another steward - a ceremony called "disposing of the crown" - who keeps them for a week. Afterwards, on every Sunday, the crown, sceptre and plate are passed on to the houses of the other stewards until the feast day itself, when they are displayed in the império (literally, empire) or chapel.


On that day the beef, offered in fulfilment of promises, is made into the typical "Holy Ghost soups" and the fragrant alcatra and, accompanied by various types of bread, massa sovada (biscuits made from kneaded dough) and the aromatic wine called vinho de cheiro, is consumed by all the inhabitants of the parish and its visitors, in an atmosphere of great rejoicing. The festivals are never lacking in foliões or jesters, who are entrusted with the task of announcing, directing and animating the ceremonies with singing accompanied by music on a drum and cymbals, called testos by the people. In rural parishes the festival ends with a lively and colourful "bullfight on a rope". The Festivals of the Holy Ghost extend from Whitsun to the end of the summer, spreading joy all over the island.

Sporting Holidays - Terceira Island - Azores

The green grass of an 18 hole golf course spread over the gentle hills next to Algar do Carvao. Angra do Heroísmo and Praia da Vitória offer conditions for the practice of sailing, windsurfing and water skiing. Grottoes set in the bowels of the Earth stimulate the curiosity of speleologists. Green fields invite visitors to take restful walks through pastures and flowers, while those who are more keen on sports will find a climb up the Serra de Santa Bárbara and Pico Alto to be a way to broaden their horizons and be thrilled by a landscape made up of numberless hues of green, framed by the blue of the sea and sky. Trying to catch combative fish from rocks or from a boat rocked by the waves. Walking over hills and dales in pursuit of elusive rabbits. Pleasures that Terceira offers for lively, sporting holidays.

The sea and fishing
Set in the middle of a sea that is rich in fish, Terceira offers the rock fisherman a chance to catch the conger eel, Jack Grevalle, mackerel, snapper bream, moray eel and broadbill sword fish, The best fishing grounds are situated in the areas of Angra de Heroismo, Sliveira, São Maleus, Pesqueiro, Biscoitos, Praia da Vitória, Porto Martins, Porto Novo and Porto Judeu.

Hunting
Rabbits abound all over the island and hunting them is allowed throughout the year. The Pico Alto region is one of the most attractive for hunters.

Discovering Nature
Encountering different views at every step. Appreciating the discreet charms of a path winding through pastures, the liquid water-colour formed by the sea as seen from the top of a cliff or white houses surrounded by flowers. Attractions of walks that lead to the discovery of a Terceira that is not included in tourist guide-books.

The Charms of The Landscape - Terceira Island

Caldeira de Guilherme Moniz
Huge volcanic crater (the largest in the archipelago), with a perimeter of 15 km. Flat and verdant interior. Rounded edges, covered with trees.

Algar do Carvão
Grottoes with a depth of about 100 metres. Stalactites and stalagmites. Close to the fumaroles of the Sulphur Caverns called Furnas do Enxofre (manifestations of volcanic activity). The caverns of Agua and Cabrito and many others that exist in Terceira (totalling about 40 and resulting from the passage of gases during the cooling of lava at the time of volcanic eruptions) are an invitation to the thrilling experience of plunging into the bowels of the Earth. A guide and suitable equipment are necessary for visits.

Biscoitos
Layers of lava resulting from former volcanic eruptions, which take on interesting shapes. Curious vineyards planted on lands devoid of vegetation, protected by stone walls - the typical curraletas.

Pico da Bagacina and Pico do Cabrito
Volcanic heights set in large areas made up of lava. Pasture area for wild cattle.

Mata da Serreta
Forest with luxuriant vegetation on the slopes of a volcanic peak. Excellent vista from the place known as Peneireiro, taking in the sea. Ideal place to relax and commune with Nature.

Serra de Santa Bárbara
A ridge that affords magnificent views of the island. Road crosses a verdant area, with rows of hydrangeas.

Lagoa do Negro and Lagoa do Ginjal
Small lakes that surprise the visitor because of the calm and beauty of the surrounding countryside.

Flemish Art in The Azores - Azores Islands

In the 15th and 16th centuries, relations with Flanders, which also supplied settlers, made it possible for the Azores to receive works of religious art from that region, which was then one of the artistic centres of Europe Dating from that period, the Azores have about one hundred Flemish sculptures (mainly from the towns of Zoutleeuw and Malines, which identified them with initials) and fewer than twenty paintings.

This legacy constitutes a true artistic treasure, since so many works from that period were destroyed in Flanders by the wars of religion. It is possible that only Spain has a larger number of Flemish images in its museums and churches. For over a century Flemish art influenced the output of religious images in the Azores until, with the Spanish occupation (1583 to 1640) and the masters of Angra cathedral, a new aesthetic style was adopted.

The Corte Real Family - Azores Islands

The genealogy of the Corte Real family dates from 1 367, beginning in the city of Tavira, in the Southern Province of Algarve.

It is believed that the name “Corte Real” was originally a nickname given because these nobles were always to be found in the “Corte Real” or “Royal Court”; another version relates that the surname was given as a title because the family had distinguished itself in many royal services. The Cone Real family was always very close to the Royal House and there fore took an active part in the conquests in North Africa as well as in the progress of the discoveries.

The earliest documents connecting the Corte Real family with the Azores Islands are the charters of February 17, 1474 and April 2. 1474 granting João Vaz Corte Real, father of Gaspar and Miguel, the governship of the Island of Terceira.

Gaspar Corte Real

The first charter clearly in dictates the division of the island of Terceira between João Vaz Corte Real and Alvaro Martins: and thus the island divided, I ordered João Vaz Corte Real to choose first, and he chose the part of Angra, and left the part of Praia for (Alvaro Martins) . .“ The second charter confirms the division of the island, and the rights of João Vaz Corte Real to administer justice and maintain the general welfare of the people.

Infanta Dona Beatriz, acting on behalf of the grandmaster of the Order of Christ, divided the governorship of the Island of Terceira into two countries: one comprised the Southeastern part known as Angra, chosen first by João Vaz Cone Real, who was to be favored by the division; and the other half, known as Praia, was accepted by Alvaro Martins Homem.

J oão Vaz Corte Real wanted to establish himself in the Island of Terceira because he knew the favorable geographical position of that island in the North Atlantic. The navigators accurately calculated that Terceira was situated on the same latitude as Lisbon — 38° 40’.

João Vaz Corte Real had landed at Terceira in 1472 after he returned from the land of Bacalhaus (Codfish) or Newfoundland. Corte Real wished to have a navigational outpost and also more income to further finance the search for the Northwest Passage. Indeed the island of Terceira became the center from which many voyages radiated out into the Atlantic for the purpose of exploring the Americas.

On May 4, 1483, Dom Manuel, grandmaster of the Order of Christ and later King of Portugal confirmed the Chart of 1472 given to João Vaz Cone Real for “the many services he performed for Prince Henry”, and in addition gave him the Island of St. George.

For almost 25 years João Vaz Corte Real continued to explore the North Atlantic, at the same time sharing his experience of navigation with his sons. When he died, in 1496, he left to his sons the governorship of Terceira and St. George, and also the fruits and legacy of his explorations.

Evidence that Gaspar Corte Real left Lisbon for North America can be seen on the Royal Charter of May 12, 1500, given by King Manuel I. This document today lies in the Torre do Tombo, or Portuguese National Archives. It states that “the ships and crew were obtained at the expense of Gaspar Corte Real who wanted to continue to look for, discover, and explore more islands and continents.”

We know that Gaspar Corte Real was successful in his voyages because King Manuel I (January 27, 1501) gave a letter of promotion to João Martins for his outstanding participation as a crew member in Gaspar Corte Real’s voyage to Newfoundland.

“King Manuel I: Be it known, that Gaspar Corte Real, knight of the Royal House, who has obtained ships and crew at his own expense, is granted permission to look for, discover, and explore more islands and continents, because he wants to continue now, and do all he can to execute his plan. . .“


The King’s letter, or Royal chart, is dated January 15, 1502, and is in the Torre do Tombo in Lisbon. As a result of the official policy of secrecy, Gaspar Corte Real did not leave any document describing his voyage to North America. In spite of this, we have the letters of the Italian spies, Alberto Cantino and Pedro Pasqualigo, written in Lisbon (October, 1501) describing in detail the voyage, the land, and the people encountered by Gaspar Corte Real. These letters are self-evident and are here presented in their entirety.

The Battle of Salga - Terceira Island

After bombarding Angra on 5th July 1581, a Spanish fleet of ten ships, commanded by Don Pedro Valdez, reconnoitred the coast of the island in search of the best landing places, At dawn on the 25th July, the first ships loaded with Spanish troops anchored in Salga bay. A watchman, stationed at the cape called Ponta do Coelho, gave the alarm, but when the first Portuguese forces arrived about one thousand Castilians had already landed and had started to sack the surroundings. In this phase of the fighting a leading role was played by young and pretty Brianda Pereira who, together with other women, attacked the enemy when she saw her house destroyed by them.


By nine a. m. the fighting was heavy. The Spaniards swept the coast with their artillery, which made the task of the defenders more difficult. About mid-day, when the outcome of the battle was still indecisive, an Augustinian named Friar Pedro, who was taking an active part in the struggle, thought of the stratagem of driving wild cattle against the Spaniards so as to scatter them. Over a thousand head of cattle were quickly gathered and, by means of shouts and musket shots, driven against the enemy positions. The terrified Spaniards fell back and were pursued to the shore, where almost all of them lost their lives in the fighting or drowned while trying to reach their boats.

Terceira Island - Ribeirinha Galleons, Shipwrecks and Treasures - Art and History

Ribeirinha
Church of São Pedro. 16th c. building that was expanded in the 18th c. High altar. Gilded, carved woodwork. 16th c. image of Christ.
The village contains four impérios of the Holy Ghost, three of which date from the l9th c.

Galleons, Shipwrecks and Treasures
Off the coast of Terceira lie the remains of swift caravels and other ships engaged in the African trade, large galleons from Peru and the Orient and war-like frigates with bright bronze cannon. These ships have transformed the coast into a hidden museum, the memory of times gone by, of struggles and suffering, of hope and danger.

Terceira Island - Fontinhas, Lajes and Sao Sebastiao - Art and History

Fontinhas
Church of Nossa Senhora da Pene. Originated in a 16th c. edifice that was profoundly altered in the 19th c. High altar. Carved woodwork. Decorative tiles. Close to an império of the Holy Ghost (19th c.). Chapel of Santo António. Picturesque l9th c. construction.

Lajes
Old village. Site of the air base which played an important part in the anti-submarine campaign of the Allies during the 2nd World War, and which also served as a supporting point for several air operations against the Axis forces. Today it is part of the defensive system of the Atlantic.
Try to visit the Church of São Miguel Arcanjo and Casa do Espanhol.

São Sebastião
Site of the first settlement on the island. An old and characteristic town that received its charter in 1503. Picturesque império or chapel of the Holy Ghost, with figures.
Try to visit the Church of São Sebastião and Chapel of Santa Ana.

Terceira Island - Vila Nova, Santa Barbara e Sao Mateus da Calheta - Art and History

São Mateus da Calheta
Picturesque fishing village. Forts Grande and Negrito, remains of the former fortifications erected all over the island to defend it from a Spanish invasion (16th c.). Two picturesque impérios or chapels of the Holy Ghost (19th c.). A whale hunting station, described by Prince Albert of Monaco in the 19th c., used to exist at Negrito.
You can visit the Parish church and the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Luz.


Santa Bárbara
Parish church. 15th c. edifice, with later alterations. Gilded, sculptured woodwork. Image of St. Barbara, in stone from ARQA. Close to the church lies an império of the Holy Ghost (19th c.).

Vila Nova
Characteristic village. On nearby Agualva stream, a number of old water-mills set in a verdant landscape. Interesting império of the Holy Ghost (l9th c.).
You can visit the Church of the Divino Espirito Santo.

History - Terceira Island - Azores

Called the island of Jesus Cristo in the period when it was being reconnoitred by the Portuguese navigators, its settlement was started in about 1450 when its captaincy was granted to a Flaming, Jácome de Bruges, by Prince Henry the Navigator. The first settlements were situated in the areas of Porto Judeu and Praia da Vitória, and soon spread all over the island. With an economy initially centred on agriculture, mainly the production of grains, and the export of woad (a dye-yielding plant), Terceira began to play an important part in navigation in the 15th and 16th centuries, as a port of call for the galleons bringing the wealth of the Americas and the ships engaged in the India trade.

Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) - responsible for starting Portugal's maritime expansion.

In that period Terceira was an emporium for the gold, silver, diamonds and spices brought from other continents, which attracted the covetousness of French, English and Flemish corsairs who constantly attacked its coast for several centuries. When Philip II of Spain took the Portuguese throne in 1580, Terceira supported the claims of the pretender, Dom Antonio, Prior do Crato, who even came to reside on the island and to coin money there, which led to Spanish attempts to conquer it. The first landing by Spanish troops, in 1581, was completely defeated in the famous battle of Salga, in which the writers Cervantes and Lopo de Vega took part. In 1583 much larger Spanish forces, commanded by Don Alvaro de Bazan, the victor of the battle of Lepanto, managed to dominate the island after violent fighting.

Until 1640 Terceira was a port of call for the Spanish galleons filled with the fabulous wealth of Peru and Mexico. With the Restoration of Portugal's independence, line Spaniards were expelled and life returned to normal. The island kept its position as the economic, administrative and religious centre of the Azores until the early 19th century. The struggles that accompanied the introduction of liberalism led Terceira to play an important role in the history of Portugal once again. The island supported the liberal cause as from 1820. After various vicissitudes, there was a turn about in 1828 and the absolutists were dominated on Terceira which became the main base of the liberals. An absolutist attempt to land at Vila da Praia was defeated in 1829, and this was followed by the establishment of a liberal regency on Terceira and the later conquest of the other islands of the archipelago by the constitutional forces. And in 1832 it was from Terceira that the liberal expedition left for the landing at Mindelo in northern Portugal and the subsequent proclamation of the Constitutional Charter.

The end of the l9th and the beginning of the 20th century were marked by a progressive reduction of Terceira's role in the life of the Azores. The construction of a port at Praia da Vitória, the existence of an important air base and a commercial airport have opened up new development perspectives for the island.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Sea and Fishing - Sao Miguel - Sporting Holidays

The indented coast of the island and the wealth and variety of fish make São Miguel a paradise for those who are keen on rock fishing.
The main species caught are barracuda, red bream, bluefish bream, conger eel, garfish, trigger fish, jack grevalle, mackeral, moray eel and common sea bream. Many fishing grounds are famous, the most interesting being those located at Ponta Deigada, Ponta das Freiras, Ferraria, Mosteiros, Ponta da Bretanha, Porto das Capelas, Poços de São Vicente, Rabo de Peixe, Ponta and Porto da Ribeira do Nordeste, Agua Retorta and Faial da Terra.


The existence of depths of 300 to 800 meters a short distance off the roast (2 to 3 km) makes it possible, with the use of a boat, to fish for barracuda, oceanic bonito, bluefish bream, dolphin, amberjack and several species of tuna.
Of course it is the large and combative sword fish, oceanic bream, pecos, several kinds of tuna and shark, etc. that supply opportunity for thrilling struggles to keen sports fishermen Several record catches have already been made. Ponta Delgada has specially equipped boats for this purpose and they cruise as far as the Formigas islets.


Underwater Life - Sporting Holidays - Sao Miguel

Warm, transparent water. Spectacular cliffs, valleys and craters. The twisted shapes and colour of volcanic rocks. The iridescent grottoes. A rich and varied flora and fauna, in which the dusky perch swims past the dolphin and the tortoise past the ray, while unending shoals of fish pass by. Attractions for those who are keen on diving and underwater observation. Who will find thousands of tiny paradises along the coast where they can appreciate all the charms of the sea, by day or by night.
Privileged areas for underwater observation are Ponta da Galera, the coast in the Feteiras area and the islets of Vile Franca and Mosteiros. A ship called the Dori is sunk next to the port of Ponta Delgada at a depth that allows it to be visited.


Lakes and Streams, Trout and Carp - Sporting Holidays - Sao Miguel

Streams that flow between densely forested ravines. Lakes with transparent water that reflects the verdant banks. The chance to catch combative trout and carp, red gurnards and achigãs. Tempting invitations that São Miguel extends to sports fishermen. Offering them at the same time healthy contact with an exuberant and flowery nature, and hours of quiet and thrills.

The streams of Praia, Alegria, Bispos, Faial da Terra, Guilherme, Machado, Caideirões, Coelhas, Salga, Carneiros, Limos and Grande offer trout that challenge the skill of any fisherman. The lake called Lagoa das Sate Cidades is rich in perch, carp and pike. In Lagoa do Fogo, trout and carp abound, while Lagoa Rasa and São Bras have achigã. In Lagoa das Furnas it is possible to catch trout, perch, carp, red gurnards and sandre.

Discovering Nature - Sporting Holidays - Sao Miguel

A golf course on the gentle hills of Furnas, bordered by hydrangeas. Tennis courts. The practice of sailing, rowing and windsurfing in the Ponta Delgada area, off the beaches and also on the lakes. Climbing steep slopes. Activities that Sao Miguel affords to those who want sporting holidays. Complemented by the opportunity to take reinvigorating walks in verdant and flower-covered areas, breathing pure air, discovering the many hues of blue of the sea and sky and the green of a landscape that is always attractive, charming and refreshing.

The thrill of discovering new horizons and panoramas. The pleasure of having direct contact with Nature, breathing bracing air filled with the scent of flowers. We suggest for walks that will enable you to discover the most intimate charms of São Miguel.

Pineapples, Tea and Tobacco - Traditional Food Specialities - Sao Miguel

The traditional old recipes remain alive in succulent dishes such as caldo azedo (a kind of soup), couves solteiras (prepared with cabbages). fervedouros, polvo guisado em vinho de cheiro (octopus stewed in local wine), torresmos em molho de figado (rashers of bacon with liver sauce), caldeiradas de peixe (fish stews), arroz de lapas (limpets with rice), ensopado de trutas (trout stew) and lapas de molho Afonso (limpets with a tasty sauce). To these must be added the curious cozido prepared at Furnas, where the pot containing meat and vegetables is buried in the soil wrapped in a cloth bag so that the volcanic heat can do its work... and several hours later it is ready to delight the palate with its flavour.

Lobster, cavaco, crabs and the strange goose barnacles, hidden in the holes they carve in the rocks, satisfy the needs of shellfish lovers. As regards cheese, São Miguel can offer a smooth white fresh variety made from goat's milk and the famous queijo da ilha, made from cow's milk and with a piquant flavour when dry. The old conventual recipes for desserts are the delight of people with a sweet-tooth. Examples are the queijadas (cheese-cakes) of Vila Franca do Campo, the concertos of Ribeira Grande, the bolo levedo of Furnas as well as the barriga-de-freira, massa sovada, bichos de amendoa and compota de capucho (a jam made from the small fruit of a herbaceous plant). The Caloura region produces a wine called vinho de cheiro or morangueiro, which is light and has a characteristic flavour. The liqueurs made from passion-fruit and pineapples are agreeable ways of concluding a meal.


Pineapples, tea... and tobacco. One of the curious things about São Miguel is the hot-houses for pineapples, which produce flavoursome, sweet fruits all year round for markets in many European countries. The main concentrations of hot-houses are situated in the areas of Faja de Cima, Lagoa and Vila Franca do Campo. Tea, that delicious beverage brought from China, is also produced on plantations that attract attention because of the unusual and charming sight of the green tea bushes covering hills and dales, divided into fields by hedges of araucarias and Japanese cedars.
Tea growing got under way in the late l9th century and in 1878 two Chinese came to São Miguel to teach the islanders the complex tasks involved in its preparation. The main plantations are located at Gorreana, next to the old Chapel of Senhora do Resgate. Another plant that finds optimum conditions for its development in the sub-tropical climate of the Azores is tobacco, which is grown almost everywhere in the land and is manufactured locally.

Music and Dancing - Sao Miguel

The nostalgia produced by the sea and isolation seems to exert a soothing influence on the tunes of the Azores. The dances take the form of bodies whirling about in time and beautiful gestures marked by the weight of tradition, with the colorful clothes of the women contrasting with the sober colours of the men.

To listen to and watch the Azoreans dance the sapateia, manjerico, pezinho, pezinho-da-vila, balho furado and cana-verde are to lift the veil a little on the soul of the islanders, marked for centuries by their isolation in the middle of the Atlantic. About thirty bands, spread all over the island, demonstrate the love the inhabitants of São Miguel have for music. They are always present at all the festivals and processions, and they usually perform from the graceful bandstands that exist in the gardens and public squares.


Folk Art - The Pottery Tradition - Sao Miguel

The repetition of old patterns' shapes and the use of raw materials from the island itself characterises the handicrafts of São Miguel. Mats made from leaves of maize and flag, colourful dolls of maize husks representing picturesque figures in their regional costumes, artificial flowers made from fish scales, paper, cloth and feathers and wickerwork are examples of the works of art that come from practised and skilful hands. To which must be added the linen embroideries, the hand woven counterpanes with squares, lozenges and colourful fluting and the woollen caps worn by the shepherds.

The first inhabitants brought with them the art of clay modelling. Pottery making already has a centuries-old tradition at Vila Franca do Campo, which once had dozens of potteries in operation, using clay brought by sailing boats from the island of Santa Maria. Today only a few potters reproduce on its wheels the traditional shapes of bowes, trays, pots, pitchers, fanciful and elegant jars and the excellent miniatures that attract collectors.

Lagoa, a pottery centre that was born in the middle of the l9th century, soon gained great fame beyond the horizons of the Azores for the decoration shapes and glazing of its pieces, The skill and art of its potters goes far beyond the utilitarian and includes statuettes and figurines, decorative vases and glazed tiles.

Festival of Born Jesus da Pedra - Vila Franca do Campo - Sao Miguel

The religious spirit of the Azorean is made keen by natural catastrophes and the isolation to which they were subjected for centuries, during which visits by ships were few and far between and inter-island relations were very weak, is expressed in forms that testify to the past and to a way of life that still persists.

The image of the Born Jesus (literally, Good Jesus) is carried Saturday evening to the church of São Miguel. It is returned in procession to the church of the Misericórdia on Sunday On the last week-end in August.

St. Michael's or Labour Procession - Vila Franca do Campo - Sao Miguel

The religious spirit of the Azorean is made keen by natural catastrophes and the isolation to which they were subjected for centuries, during which visits by ships were few and far between and inter-island relations were very weak, is expressed in forms that testify to the past and to a way of life that still persists.

A throw-back to the Middle Ages and the corporations of craftsmen in a procession in which the various professions gather round the litter bearing their patron saint. The colours of the surplices worn by the participants define their profession. A splendid and long procession. Take's place on the Sunday following the 8th May.

Procession of Our Lord of the Sick - Furnas - Sao Miguel

The religious spirit of the Azorean is made keen by natural catastrophes and the isolation to which they were subjected for centuries, during which visits by ships were few and far between and inter-island relations were very weak, is expressed in forms that testify to the past and to a way of life that still persists.

The streets, covered with petals lay out in artistic designs, are the scene of the procession. The carpets of petals display all the hues of the flowers of the Azores. Held on the first Sunday after Easter.

St. Peter's Cavalcades - Ribeira Seca - Sao Miguel

The religious spirit of the Azorean is made keen by natural catastrophes and the isolation to which they were subjected for centuries, during which visits by ships were few and far between and inter-island relations were very weak, is expressed in forms that testify to the past and to a way of life that still persists.

A "king" or headman, knights, lance's, stewards and trumpeters dressed in white, with red capes and sashes, mounted on splendid horses, ride through the streets in the morning of St. Peter's day (29th June), repeating ceremonies whose origin is lost in time and which recall the tournaments of knighthood. A colourful spectacle which heads toward the centre of the town of Ribeira Seca and has its culminating point at the church of São Pedro when the "king" greets the saint in verse and makes his horse place its front hoofs on the door of the church.


The Lenten Pilgrims - Sao Miguel - All Over the Island

The religious spirit of the Azorean is made keen by natural catastrophes and the isolation to which they were subjected for centuries, during which visits by ships were few and far between and inter-island relations were very weak, is expressed in forms that testify to the past and to a way of life that still persists.

During the seven weeks of Lent, groups of men walk round São Miguel, led by a "master" and pray next to the churches and chapels dedicated to Our Lady. Eight days after they return to their home villages, there is a festival in which all the inhabitants of the parish take part.

Holy Ghost Festivals - Sao Miguel - All Over the Island

The religious spirit of the Azorean is made keen by natural catastrophes and the isolation to which they were subjected for centuries, during which visits by ships were few and far between and inter-island relations were very weak, is expressed in forms that testify to the past and to a way of life that still persists.

Of Medieval origin (13th c.) they are one of the most traditional expressions of devotion. They are held on Sundays from April to June. Presenting different characteristics from island to island and from village to village, their common features are the coronation of the "emperor", the feast day on which the offerings of bread, meat and wine - called "pensions" - are distributed among the needy and the "brothers" of the "Empire" and the "jesters" who, with their musical instruments and songs recall age-old customs.

The most colourful festivals of the Holy Ghost take place at Rabo de Peixe, with ox-carts decorated with fanciful ornaments made of coloured paper, and at Ribeira Grande, where girls march in a procession carrying trays on their head with the "pensions" of the "brothers" of the Holy Ghost.

Senhor Santo Cristo Festival at Ponta Delgada - Sao Miguel

The religious spirit of the Azorean is made keen by natural catastrophes and the isolation to which they were subjected for centuries, during which visits by ships were few and far between and inter-island relations were very weak, is expressed in forms that testify to the past and to a way of life that still persists.

The most important religious festivities in the Azores are held on the fifth Sunday after Easter.

Everything started at the end of the 17th century with the fame of the miracles obtained through the intercessors of the Senhor Santo Cristo (literally Lord Holy Christ), whose image is venerated in the Convent of Nossa Senhora da Esperança. The procession dates from that period, and even nowadays follows the same itinerary and covers a large part of Ponta Delgada The procession comprises tens of thousands of the faithful who come from every island in the Azores, the Azorean communities spread over the world and other origins.

At festival time the town is decorate with arches and fascinating illuminations. The streets where the procession passes are covered with carpets of artistically laid out flowers. The blessing of the bread and meat, distributed among the needy, marks the start of the festivities. This is followed on Sunday by the procession with the image under its famous baldachin decorated with flowers.

To the devotion shown by the faithful must be added the conviviality and joy of the profane part of the festivities, complete with fireworks and music played by dozens of bands. Ponta Delgada is transformed into a town full of colour and animation during the six days the festival lasts.

Beaches - Sao Miguel - The Magic of the Sea

The indented coast of São Miguel provides sea-lovers with charming beaches nestling among cliffs, and also natural swimming-pools formed among the rocks.

São Pedro
Natural pool integrated in Ponta Delgada.

São Roque
The calm and family-type "beaches of Milicias or Areal Grande, and Areal Pequeno. Supporting facilities. Nearby lies Fort São Caetano.
Pópulo. Stretch of sand on a cosy bay, surrounded by verdant countryside. Pine grove on the slope of a dune. In the vicinity, the Chapel of Madonna del Popolo (17th c.), part of an old noble manor-house.

Lagoa (Baixa da Areia)
Welcoming natural swimming-pool. Close to it lies the Chapel of Nossa Senhora do Cabo de Finisterra.

Caloura
Picturesque fishing port. Natural pool. Diving and underwater observation centre.

Agua d'Alto
Long stretch of sand between two promontories.

Ribeira Chã
Quiet cosy beach.

Islet of Vila Franca do Campo
A natural shell with a small but charming beach. Can be reached only by boat. Nature reserve.

Ribeira Quente
Typical fishermen's village. Close by lies a quiet, lonely shell-like beach called Praia do Fogo. Along the access road, torrents of ferrous water and luxurious vegetation.

Porto Formoso
Typical parish. In the surroundings, there is a small isolated beach. Ruins of a former coastal defence fortress. To the west, Praia dos Moinhos, a broad stretch of sand with calm waters. Mouth of a stream with crystal-clear water.

Capelas
Village hanging over the sea. Natural swimming-pool. Broad views of the northern coast of the island from the hill called Morro das Capelas.

Mosteiros
Picturesque parish. Coast cut by inlets and rocks. Natural pool. In the vicinity, the islets of Mosteiros and Pico das Camarinhas, with curious vestiges of the island's original vegetation.

Furnas Valley - Sao Miguel - The Charm of the Landscape

Huge hollow and luxurious garden in which the colour of the flowers is mixed with the bright green of the Japanese cedars and araucarias. Leafy vegetation from cold and tropical countries, with some species that are hard to find in their lands of origin, Calm and romantic Lake Furnas, with the Gothic profile of José do Canto's chapel - dedicated to Our Lady of Victories - reflected on its clear waters, invites the visitor to rest for a few minutes. On its banks are volcanic solfataras and the "natural kitchens" in which the famous dish called cozido is cooked by burying in the soil hermetically closed pots containing meat and vegetables.


The Caldeiras or craters are an area with diverse forms of volcanic activity, one the most spectacular being Caldeira de Pero Botelho with its boiling mud. Next to the Caldeiras are springs of thermal water at various temperatures. A full-fledged spa, with Pavilions and a hospital (19th c.), is integrated in this complex.
Based on plantations started by Thomas Hickling in the 18th century and continued in the 19th century, Terra Nostra Park, in the picturesque parish of Furnas, is a romantic vision of ponds, winding paths, flowers, centuries-old exotic trees and silence, Two streams converge in the park and there is a pond of warm thermal water that is used as a swimming-pool. A golf course and tennis courts are also part of the tourist complex of Furnas Valley.

The valley is crossed by two fast-flowing streams, one with cold water and the other with warm water coloured by iron in suspension. Typical water-mills exist.
Nearby lies the height called Pico de Ferro, a belvedere affording an expansive view of Furnas Valley. There are also a lot of small waterfalls.

Pico do Carvao - Lagoa do Fogo -Tronqueira - Sao Miguel - The Charm of the Landscape

Pico do Carvão
A peak that provides broad views of the sea and the centre of the island, dominating the northern and southern coasts. Nearby lay Lakes Carvão, Canário and Rasa, besides other, smaller ones, surrounded by the cool green of the trees and pastures.

Lagoa do Fogo
The crater of an extinct volcano. An enormous lake with transparent waters Peninsula with beach. Atmosphere of great calm and beauty. Splendid vistas of the sea and mountains. Nearby lies Lakes Congro and Nenúfares, of small size but great beauty.

Tronqueira
Grandiose scenery made up of ridges and passes, with magnificent vistas of greenery and the sea. Forestry park, The culminating point is Pico de Vara that, with an altitude of 1,080 metres, is the highest in the island. Excellent view of the eastern part of the island.

Caldeira das Sete Cidades - Sao Miguel - The Charm of the Landscape

Large crater with a perimeter of 12 km. The unforgettable scene of Lagoa Verde (literally, Green Lake) and Lagoa Azul (Blue Lake) framed by steep slopes covered with trees and flowers. The banks and small peninsula of Lagoa Azul are an invitation to restful walks and picnics, to the enjoyment of peace and quiet. Legend attributes the different colour of the waters to line tears shed by a princess and a shepherd who wept when their love was thwarted and thus created the two lakes at the bottom of the crater. Inside the crater lies the picturesque village of Sete Cidades, with curious houses in a popular architectural style and a 19th c. neo-Gothic parish church, as well as green pastures and the modest but attractive lake called Santiago. Next to Lagoa Azul there is a picturesque garden with magnificent trees and masses of azaleas.

Belvederes of Vista do Rei (connected with King Carlos's visit in 1901) and Cerrado das Freiras. Interesting views from the road that has been built along part of the rim of the crater, with luxurious rows of hydrangeas. Successive lovely views along the road that connects the above mentioned Parish Church to the village of Várzea by crossing the mountains.

Sao Miguel - Art and History - Places to visit - Brief Description

Lagoa
In Centre of the São Miguel pottery industry, which started in the l9th c. Pieces of great beauty. Fishing port.
We can visit the Church of Santo António, belonged to the annexed Franciscan monastery and example of 18th c. Baroque Azorean architecture, the Chapel ot Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, a 15th c. construction Hispano-Arab glazed tiles.

Agua de Pau
Borough seat from 1515 to 1853. Typical narrow streets recalling Portuguese town of bygone times. Interesting urban centre of Alto do Monte Santo. 18th c houses. Parish church (16th c.). Facade with the Cross of Christ.

Caloura
Formerly Vale de Cabaços. Characteristic village, set among vineyards protected by stone walls. Picturesque fishing port on a narrow creek. Swimming-pool at the end of the breakwater.
We can visit the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição. Integrated in the monastery of Recollects (Calouras). Founded in the 17th c. interesting example of Baroque architecture. Facade and interior covered with glazed tiles Chancel, retable with funny angels with thick moustaches. Glazed tile portraits of St. Teresa of Avila and St. Philip Nery. Statues attributed to a French sculptor who, with his son, lived among the Recollects of Franciscan monks. Altars with carved woodwork. Tombstones with poetical inscriptions. Interesting gratings carved out of the store of the lateral facade. Churchyard with a bucolic atmosphere and leafy trees Ruins of former fortifications.
Fort Nossa Senhora da Conceição. 17th c. fortress built to defend the harbour.


Vila Franca do Campo
The first capital of the Island. Partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1522. Picturesque fishing town. Pottery making centre with a centuries-long tradition.
We can visit the Church of Sao Miguel; Church of São Pedro; Church of Santo André and the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Paz.

Povoação
Place where the first inhabitants of the island settled. Picturesque fishing port. Example of Azorean town planning of the 19th and 20th century. Crossed by a stream. Surrounded by seven hills that afford excellent views.
We can visit the Chapel of Santa Bárbara. Built in the 15th c., restored in the 19th c. is considered the first place of worship to have been built in São Miguel (undergoing reconstruction).

Nordeste
Situated in the far east of the island, in an area with up and downs but of great beauty. Interesting and picturesque town. The Town Hall is an example of l9th c. urban architecture.
We can visit the Church of São Jorge.

Achadinha
Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário. Has its origin in a 16th c. construction. Rebuilt in the l9th century. Retable of the high and side altars. Gilded, carved woodwork.