History of Terceira, Azores:
The history of Terceira dates back to 1450 when the island was first settled in the areas of Praia da Vitoria and Porto Judeu. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Terceira was an island for the ships sailing to the New World or India and back. During those periods, Terceria became a commercial centre for the gold, silver, diamonds, fur, spices, and other various goods brought back to Europe. This led to several attacks on Terceria by the English, French, and Spanish in the 16th and 17th centuries. Between 1580 and 1640, the Spanish controlled Terceria and used it as a port of call for the Spanish ships bringing back loot from Peru and Mexico. Portugal regained its independence in 1640.
Reasons why you should visit Terceira:
Terceira, is well known for bullfights by the rope (Touradas á corda). This special event is unique to the Azores, and has been practiced since the 16th Century. From May to October there will be bullfighting events; the bull is let loose with a very long rope around its neck, usually at the main road in a small village. Before every bull is getting out of a wooden crate, a small rocket is launched. This signal indicates that there is a bull on the street, and the game is ready to begin. Bullfighting in the arena with the matador is a great opportunity to watch bullfighting in another way than in Spain. The bull will not be killed and matador will place small “blades” on the back of the bull.
image: Sao Mateus running of the bulls
Terceira is full of natural sites, especially volcanic crates that can be seen in Monte Brasil. Visit Algar do Carvao known for its famous grottos or Natal Cave where visitors can go underground and see the chapel built inside the cave. Known for beautiful blue oceans and beaches, Praia da Victoria is most famously known for the best beach in Terceira with white sands. There are festivals at night with one special bullfighting event on the beach.
Angra do Heroismo central downtown is famous for its best restaurants, shopping and garden filled with flowers, trees, ponds and animals. Visitors can climb up to the highest point of the island and see the famous Obelisco do Alto da Memoria tower built in homage of King D. Pedro IV during the civil war.
Festivals play an important role in Terceira’s social culture; most of them take place between May and November. Music festivals like “Angrajazz” and “Ramo Grande Festival” in early November both demonstrate the island’s love for music, especially Jazz.
image: Angra do Heroismo – Obelisco do Alto da Memoria
Where to eat:
When you think of Portugal one word comes to mind……..Seafood!!! lots and lots of seafood. Terceira is best known for the best restaurants situated by the ocean. Over looking beaches and blue oceans one of the best seafood restaurants Beira Mar is located in Sao Mateus . Fisherman’s are seen daily come back to shore with buckets filled with fish. Looking for good steak? One must travel to the city of Angra to Marcelinos Bar and Steak house. The famous beef sandwiches on a bun and cookie filled with ice cream at bullfights. Village festivals have traditional cuisine, featuring meat specialties like the holy ghost, alcatra, morcela (sausage), sarapatel (haggis), cozido, and caldeira (fish stew). Terceira is known for its signature sweetness, whether with its meat, bread, biscuits, or potatoes. For the wine lovers out there, visit the wine museum where traditional Portuguese wine is made and wine tasting.
image: Alcatra de carne (meat stew)
Tips on travelling to Terceira:
Beginning April to October each year out of Toronto direct flights are available with Portuguese airline, Sata Airlines. For cheaper fares one may fly from Toronto to Lisbon or Sao Miguel island and connect. All you need to pack is a cute bathing suit and some sunscreen!!!
Two of the best places to stay while visiting Terceira is Beira Mar Hotel; visitors can relax by the pool over looking this beautiful scenery or walk down a few steps to the beach.
Staying closer to the Airport and Praia da Victoria, visitors can stay at Aparthotel Atlantida Mar right on the beach. This hotel is known for upscale amenities and great customer care; it will not disappoint.
image: Beira Mar Hotel
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For more information on Terceira, Azores please visit : http://www.visitazores.com, http://www.azores.com/terceira.
By: Sonia Fernandes