Wonders of Azores
The westernmost part of Europe is not Ireland or continental Portugal. Westernmost are Azorean islands far, far to the west from mainland Europe.
Modern Europeans reached these islands in medieval times. Most beautiful monument of these times is Angra do Heroísmo – beautiful late medieval town, an early example of Renaissance thinking in urban planning.
Some even consider that these islands are the last remnants of the legendary Atlantis – there are frequent reports about submerged pyramids and other mysterious archaeological finds here. Most of these reports are not true – but they add some romantic flavor to the image of Azores. Nevertheless here are mysterious archaeological monuments – megaliths that are somewhat similar to Irish megaliths. Could it be possible – that prehistoric people managed to go that far in the ocean?
There are also impressive natural landmarks. Especially beautiful is the scenery of Flores island with its cliffs covered with subtropical forest and adorned with countless waterfalls. Very interesting are the geothermal fields as well as the beautiful landscape of volcanic craters with their deep calderas and lakes.
Map with the described wonders
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Top 24 wonders of Azores
Furnas do Enxofre
Field of fumaroles. Gases are up to 95° C hot. Some fumaroles have shaped sulfur coated holes in the ground. The landscape with fumes and dense vegetation looks unusual.
Lake Furnas geothermal field
Group of hot springs and fumaroles, some of them are considered to be geysers although do not fully correspond to the characteristics.
Gruta das Torres
More than 5.2 km long lava cave, the longest in the Azores. Contains picturesque stalactites and stalagmites. Here live at least two endemic species of insects.
Cascata da Ribeira Grande
Magnificent, more than 200 m tall waterfall. After heavy rains in the area of waterfall form numerous other smaller waterfalls of similar height (waterfalls at Fajazinha), creating a magnificent scene. Some waterfalls fall directly into the sea.
Caldeira Velha Falls
These waterfalls are formed by thermal waters. Waters have deposited iron salts, thus forming interesting orange and brown formations. Below the falls is located a geothermal field with boiling springs.
Cascata da Ribeira Quente
Tall waterfall with several cascades. Formed by thermal springs.
Algar do Carvão
Volcanic vent and lava cave. Cave is some 100 m long and 90 m deep. The cave is entered through a 45 m deep chimney.
Gruta do Natal
697 m long lava cave.
Pyramid-shaped stone settings in an area that is rich with volcanic stones. Some step-pyramids are up to 13 m high. Some archaeologists consider that these are prehistoric structures although most likely these are ordered piles of stones collected from the agricultural fields.
Grota do Medo
Recently discovered megalithic constructions – two rock settings similar to passage graves and four structures similar to Irish portal tombs. The site contains more than 20 large stones with depressions cut in them where water is collecting. There is also an engraving of a boat and cupmarks.
Rock cut chambers, possible prehistoric structures made long before the coming of Portuguese in the 14th century. Similar rock-cut structures have been found on Corvo and Santa Maria islands and, reportedly, on Flores. Researchers consider that these can be Carthaginian (Phoenician) temples from the 4th century BC.
Cart ruts of São Brás
Mysterious parallel incisions – ruts in the rock, as if left by heavy vehicle in sift rock. Some cart ruts elsewhere in the island enter the sea. Such landmarks are characteristic for Mediterranean region, especially Malta.
Angra do Heroísmo Old City
Well preserved historical city – a witness to the age of great discoveries, for several centuries an obligatory stop for ships travelling to America and back. City center is picturesque, with steep streets and ornate houses, Portuguese pavement.
Ponta Delgada Old City
Historical center of once important Transatlantic port, founded around 1450. Numerous valuable structures have been preserved including the ancient gates to the city and central plaza.
Fortress of São João Baptista
Impressive fortress with ornate entrance gates. Constructed in the 15th – 16th century.
Criação Velha vineyards
Impressive historical vineyards, still in use. Vine here is grown in volcanic soil, plantings are protected by a complex, dense system of drystone walls. Vineyards have been developed since the 15th century, area is dotted with historical buildings – windmills, manor houses, wine cellars.
Ribeira Grande Eight Arches Bridge
Ornate bridge with eight large arches, built in the 18th century.
Church of the Jesuit College in Ponta Delgada
This ornate church was built in the middle of the 16th century.
Convent of São Francisco
Beautiful Franciscan convent and church – Church of Our Lady of the Guide. Constructed in the time period from (approximately) 1663 to 1672 in Baroque style. Now a museum of city.
Sé Cathedral of Angra do Heroísmo
The largest cathedral in Azores. Construction of the first church was built here in 1461 – 1496, but the current one – in 1562 – 1683 in Mannerist style.
Cemetery of Anchors
Ship cemetery in the Bay of Angra. Many ships have lost their anchors during sudden swells and at least 72 ships sunk here. Most have not been found yet.
Church of São Mateus da Calheta
Large church in Neo-Baroque style, built in 1895 – 1911.Church was built in the site where church has been standing since the middle of the 16th century.
Bradt’s Azores guidebook is the only comprehensive guidebook to the nine-island archipelago, a nature-lovers wilderness perched at the western extremity of Europe in the mid-Atlantic, and one of the best places in the world for whale watching. This new edition continues to provide the strong geological and botanical information that is so integral to the islands and essential for all nature lovers, but it also has an expanded focus on taking in the land- and sea-based activities which have become a significant part of the Azores tourism offering in the past few years.
Welcome to the most Complete AZORES Travel Guide for Tourists made by locals!