This island is 65 Kms long and 16 wide and is the most highly populated of all the islands with 126.000 inhabitants, acting as the administrative capital.
This island was chosen by Price Henry the Navigator as his first to be inhabited by Portuguese and ordered that a flock of sheep be put onshore in 1432 a year prior to the arrival of the first settlers.
During the period when the Portuguese throne was ruled by the Spanish King Felipe II, the French sent a fleet of 60 ships which took possession of the Island. However, two week later a Spanish larger fleet arrived and quickly defeated the French.
A busy port and has nearby one of the three international airports. Besides its natural beauty (common to all the islands), its two outstanding tourist attractions are the famous Lagoa do Fogo and the Caldeiras das Furnas.
The island was originally two separate islands and in 1563 a volcanic eruption joined them together and at the same time created an inland lake lined with narrow sandy beaches. In this period the Caldeiras das Furnas was also created and there are numerous hot steaming geysers which gush up from below the earths crust.
They provide therapeutic mud and mineral water for use as a health treatment in the local spas. The northern shores of this lake provide such hot steam that it is used to make a traditional local meat stew.
Gonçalves da Câmara who was the son of the discoverer of the Island of Madeira was appointed its first Governor. In the 18th Century, the USA Ambassador to the Azores Islands planted hundreds of trees and plants to create a 12 hectare garden which today is a popular attraction.
In the north-west side of the island is another volcanic creation with dramatic drops of up to 300 metres into a crater with three lakes surrounded by fertile green vegetation.
The capital town of Ponta Delgada has neat white homes, many churches and convents reflecting its wealthy trading times.
The seafront is dominated by three 18th Century arches which used to be the gates leading into the town.
The main church, Igreja de São Sebastião, dates from the 16th Century and has some beautiful tiles and attractive 17th Century jacaranda furniture together with its white limestone doorway.
The facade of the Chapel of São Francisco de Asiss is worth viewing for its ornate stone work as is the Igreja e Convento de Nossa Senhora da Esperança.
The 16th Century fortress of São Bras has been mainly been restored in the late 19th Century.
The popular Festival de Santo Cristo dos Milagres takes place on the fifth Sunday after Easter which centres on the nearby Convento da Esperança.
The Convento de Santo André is the home of the Museu Carlos Machado with its theme featuring the history of the local fishing and farming industry.
In the later half of the 20th Century the island developed a large export trade in pineapples.
Throughout the world in specialized Tea Shops can be purchased the famous "Perl" variety which is grown in the Ribeira Grande area, dried and packaged for shipment in its small factory.
This is also a town worth visiting as some of the buildings show some impressive carved stone work.
A new tourist attraction has been opened which is a natural tunnel some five kilometres long and six metres high by thirteen metres wide. This tunnel can be found at Carvão.
Possibly the most well known dish in the Azores originates from this island. Its name is Cozido das Furnas and is a rich stew based on meat. The uniqueness of this dish is that it is placed below ground and steamed for up to 6 hours in a volcanic surroundings - it is always necessary to pre-order this meal the day before.
Among many other dishes there are Couves Solteriras, Polvo Guisado, Arroz de Lapa and, Ensopado de Trutas.
Two local cheeses to be tried are Vila Franca and Covada.
When visiting Ribeira Grande on the north coast try a drink named "Canários" which brings together three fruits of the Azores, pineapple, "maracujá" and "amora".
Direct flights from Lisbon and North America with interconnecting flights within the islands. There is a boat connection with the Ilha de Santa Maria.
|Procissão de São. Miguel (Vila Franca)
||1st Sunday after Easter
|Procissão de São. Miguel (Ribeira Grande)
|Festas do Senhor St. Cristo dos Milagres
||5th Sunday after Easter
|Cavalhadas de São Pedro
||296 201 710
||296 629 618
||296 282 569
||296 287 000
||296 285 743
|Support to Tourists
||800 296 296