Açores – Terceira

Being part of the “central group”, Terceira owes its name to the fact that it was the third island of the archipelago to be discovered, curiously it is also, with an area of ​​about 385 square kilometers, the third largest island of the group, and the second most important island of the archipelago. The capital of Terceira is the city of Angra do Heroísmo,a Unesco World Heritage Site. Nature and culture are the two areas where tourism is increasingly supported by this Azorean island. Each island of the Azores has its treasures, its secrets and many reasons that justify a visit.

Enjoy the capitals’ UNESCO World Heritage classification and walk the streets looking for all the architectural landmarks that gave it this status. Take a stroll through areas such as the Rua Direita, the Monument of Memory, the Cathedral and the Church of Mercy, with its unexpected blue, and finish in Monte Brasil. On this mountain, there is the Castle of S. João Baptista, an important Philippine fortress built in the 16th century. Take a walk along the signposted course and know that Monte Brasil is an extinct volcano that originated in the sea and joined the city of Angra do Heroísmo.

The thing that most impressed me on Terceira was the volcanic phenomenon of Algar do Carvão, which is located inside the Caldeira Guilherme Moniz. This incredible wonder of nature is located in the interior of a dormant volcano, consisting of a volcanic cone about 90 meters high, containing inside it a beautiful lagoon with crystalline and tranquil waters about 100 meters deep. With most volcanoes that erupt, the top is blown off, but this one having its cone fully intact still, makes it truly unique. The Algar do Carvão will have originated in the great eruption of Pico Alto that launched lava at a great distance. Later, another basaltic eruption began the process of forming another volcano, the Pico do Carvão. In a first phase, the zone of the beautiful lagoon and the two vaults on it formed, and only in a signal phase, during the deepest descents of the magma, the Algar was formed. Very effusive lava spills produced very fluid acidic lava rivers that charred existing vegetation. Access to the Algar do Carvão is now facilitated by the construction of staircases inside, which allow a more comfortable visualization of this natural phenomenon, where it is possible to observe the route traveled by the lava river, and the curious stalactites and volcanic stalagmites. A local told me that in winter, when the Algar is not open for tourist visits, they have concerts inside of the part of the vulcano that is called the ‘Cathedral’ which is shaped exactly like a real cathedral, but completely natural and has the same beautiful acoustics.

The possibility of seeing whales is big on Açores, but of course there is no guarantee as it is always dependent on the time of year and the will of the great mammals. Sperm whales and sardinheiras are residents and so they are regularly sighted there. More than guaranteed is the presence of playful dolphins, of diverse species, that inhabit these waters. Departures are made from the port of Angra do Heroísmo and each trip has a biologist aboard to explain which species you are seeing. We went in May and we saw so much cetaceans: Sperm whales, one with a calf, a blue whale (the largest mammal on Earth), a pod of Humpback whales that swam with us for a long time and two types of dolphins. It was certainly very impressive.

The swimming pools at Biscoitos are considered by many to be the best on the island. The natural pools, carved by volcanic rocks, are supported by various equipment, including areas for sunbathing.

If you are looking for spectacular scenery with endless panoramic views, a beautiful nature almost wild and still untouched by man, vast open spaces where numerous shades of green prevail, an exuberant flora, lonely hiking routes, small and quiet villages, deserted and picturesque roads, and lovely beaches … then you have to visit Açores.