Graciosa Island

Santa Cruz da Graciosa

Information

The beautiful Graciosa Island (“Gracious“), often called as “White Island”, is located on the central group of the wonderful Azores Archipelago, at 37km distance from the neighbour São Jorge Island, and occupying an area of about 62km2, with 12,5 km length and 8,5 km maximum width.
This Island is the less geographically irregular in the archipelago, with amazing landscapes and a wonderful architectonic, human and natural heritage.

The discovery dates of the Azores Archipelago are unknown, with several historical researches affirming that some of the island were already referred in Genovese maps since 1351, yet it was only from 1431 onwards that the colonization started in these Islands.
Graciosa Island would have been discovered around 1450, probably by navigators from the Terceira Island, that fell in love with the great natural beauty of this Island. Graciosa was mostly colonized by inhabitants from the Beira and Minho regions of Portugal mainland and also from Flanders.

Land of fertile soils, since early times of colonization new plantations were introduced, the cattle was brought to this greenish pastures, and several vineyards were planted. The commercial trades were made mostly with Terceira Island, which had a very important maritime port. Graciosa, due to its low altitude and to its coast with easy access, was often attacked and sacked by Pirates, and also suffered with natural catastrophes, such as earthquakes and storms, that caused great harm, yet the Island development happened gradually, and settle a considerable number of population.

Graciosa charms for its natural beauty, its traditional architecture with white dispersed houses, that contrasts with the dark tones of the volcanic inheritance, the greenish agricultural and pasture fields, the profound blue of the vast Atlantic Ocean that surrounds it…
The natural heritage offers pearls such as the Sulphur Caves, a volcanic phenomenon, with a pond with 130 meters diameter and 100 meters depth of warm sulphur waters in the interior of a cave; the natural Viewpoints of Monte da Ajuda, towering above the lovely Santa Cruz village, and Caldeirinha one; the famous Carapacho Thermal Waters, indicated for rheumatics and skin disorders; the Branca and the Dormida Mountain Ranges; or even the amazing Natural Forest Reserve of Caldeira da Graciosa.

There is much more to see, know and appreciate in this small and “gracious” Island, like the Ethnographic Museum that perfectly shows the rural lifestyle and the Island’s history throughout the centuries, as well as the many religious, rural and social monuments that Graciosa offers.

Land of tradition, fertile soils and pastures, and the rich influence of the wide Atlantic Ocean, in Faial Island, the typical Gastronomy assembles delightful recipes with the best meat, sea and shell food, vegetables and also the Cheese and the much appreciated pastry tradition. All served with the best white wines produced in the Island, and also the “Aguardente Velha” (sugarcane rum).


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