Terceira, the festive island

Casas típicas
Place: Ilha Terceira nos Açores
Photo: Turismo dos Açores
Photo: Turismo dos Açores

The island of Terceira, one of the main entry points to the Azores, together with the islands of Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial, forms the central group of the archipelago.

As its name implies, this was the third island of the archipelago to be discovered, although at first it was called the Island of Jesus Cristo. It began to be populated in the 15th century, and has developed steadily since then, largely due to its geographical location.

But what makes Terceira so special is the magnificent contrast between the natural beauty of this volcanic island and the admirable work of man in the historic centre of Angra do Heroísmo, its capital, founded in 1534, and the first place in the Azores to be made a city and to be classified World Heritage by UNESCO. Indeed, the title "Most Noble, Loyal and Ever Constant" attributed to the city emphasises its importance throughout the history of Portugal. The bay of Angra gained great importance not only as an internal trading post for regional products produced on the other islands, but also for its even greater prominence as an intercontinental staging post for ships sailing between Europe, the Americas and India.

Seen from Alto da Memória or the viewpoint on Monte Brasil, the historic centre of Angra do Heroísmo is a testimony to the kings and noblemen who passed by here, leaving behind some beautiful architecture in its network of streets and alleyways, and its churches, palaces, mansions, monuments, squares and gardens, which have been preserved until the present day.

Visits must be made to the forts of São Sebastião and São João Baptista, unique examples of military architecture dating back more than 400 years, the 16th century Cathedral, considered the largest church in the archipelago, the Palace of the Captains-General, the Town Hall, the Church of São Gonçalo, the Bettencourt Palace, the Angra Museum, located in the former S. Francisco monastery, and the Duke of Terceira Garden, with many well-tended species, among other monuments.

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