Highlights in Ponta Delgada, Portugal

In the Atlantic Ocean, between Portugal and North America, one will find a group of islands famous for their natural beauty. These are the Azores and are composed of nine islands. Although all of the islands originated from volcanoes, they are all different from one another. The islands belong to Portugal, and together they make up one of the two autonomous regions of the country.

One of the islands is Sao Miguel. This is the largest of the nine islands. Because of the geography of this island, one will find that most of the homes lie along the network of roads that circle the island. The island contains a caldera and a volcano crater, filled by the twin seas Sete Cidades, as well as beautiful gardens for the visitor to enjoy.

The largest and most populous city on the island is Ponta Delgada, situated on the southern coast of Sao Miguel. Ponta Delgada is a historic town, which boasts the main tourist, as well as cultural, attractions of the island. The main airport, Airport Ponto Delgada, lies on the western edge of the town, and from here, one can easily find their way to the numerous tourist sites.

Ponta Delgada is well known for its many churches. One of these is the St. Sebastian’s Church (Sao Sebastiao). The construction of this church was completed in 1547, incorporating the Gothic style of architecture. It contains several embroideries, made with gold thread, within the church.

Another fascinating church is St. Joseph’s (Sao Jose) Church, constructed in 1709. Interestingly, one can see a hispano-mexican inspiration in the statues and woodwork in the church, as well as the blue and white tiles used in the construction.

In addition to the numerous churches in Ponta Delgada, the city also has many examples of the architecture of the past. The gates, “Portas da Cidade”, consist of three arches constructed in the 18th century.

In 1552, the “Forte de Sao Bras” was constructed as a means of defending the city from pirates at the time. Today, it is used as a base for the Portuguese Navy. Another fort, the “Mae de Deus” was built as a defense of the city, and is now used as a lookout point.

Throughout the city, one can find many examples of the architecture of the 17th to the 19th century. One of these is the Sant’Ana Palace. This palace, surrounded by lavish gardens, was built in the 19th century, and is where the current President of the Regional Government of the Azores lives.

Ponta Delgado also has tourist sites that are unique to this area. For instance, the Marina Complex, which has been updated recently, is a place where all can find relaxation. It consists of the yacht club, a municipal pool, and a marina, where yachts from near and far come to rest and resupply their boats.

Another site not to be missed is the Carvao Cave. This is the largest lava tunnel found in the Azores, and is more than 13m wide and 1km long. It is said to be the only tunnel of this type that is inside a town.

One site favored by all visitors is the Mercado do Graca, or the Free Market. Here, one can buy fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other items. In the same area are shops that specialize in food products that are unique to the Azores. In addition to the market, one can visit one of the pineapple plantations that exist close by, giving them access to fresh pineapple.

After a day of touring, one may wish to find a place to relax. The perfect place to do this is the Jardim Antonio Borges. This is a large green space in the city. It consists of small lakes, paths, grottos and bridges for one to wander through at their leisure.

Each island of the Azores is unique, as are the cities on each of those islands. Ponta Delgada allows one to experience the beauty and charm of the styles and architecture of the past, while still being able to enjoy the conveniences of the present. One will not easily forget a visit to this city.