Terceira makes up part of the central group of islands. Many galleons cast anchor here, weighed down with cargoes of spices from the East and gold and silver from America. The island, with its green patchwork of level fields dotted with the white silhouettes of dairy cows, the brush-strokes of vibrant colour between white-washed houses provides for a lovely sight, further enhanced by the epoch of azaleas in April and the hydrangeas during the summer.
History Terceira (Third) is so called because it was the third island to be discovered by the Portuguese navigators. Settlement began around 1450 and its strategic geographical location made it one of the pillars of trade between Europe, America and India. Its ports, for example, were used to shelter galleons loaded with treasures, cargoes of spices from the East and gold and silver from America.
The end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century were marked by a progressive reduction in the importance of Terceira. The construction of a port at Praia da Vitória, however, the existence of an important air base and a commercial airport have opened up new development perspectives for the island. Culture Fiestas The majority of the Festivals are of religious origin. The festival of the Holy Spirit takes place from Whitsun until end of August. From May to October, in Terceira, one has bullfights with ropes. A high point in the calendar of events is the sea festival at Horta (Faial) starting the first sunday and going to the second sunday in August. Musicians play all kinds of simple instruments: the “viola de arame” (wire viola), cymbals, steel triangles and drums accompany their characteristic dances that express the joy and the solitude of a past involved in the everyday life.
Handicrafts Wicker baskets and furniture, miniatures of fig tree pith, embroideries and lace, blankets and bedspreads, artificial flowers made with fish scales and, blue and white ceramics, are all charming souvenirs and handicrafts available in the Azores. Monuments With its palaces and forts dating back to the 16th century, the city of Angra do Heroismo has been classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO – a testament to its beauty and history. But there are many other charming towns to visit. Santa Graciosa is full of ancient streets and manor houses. Horta has the famous yacht harbour and the 17th century churches of São Salvador, Nossa Senhora do Carmo and São Francisco, with their beautiful tiles and gilded carvings Gastronomy The famous limpet is served in a variety of ways, but is delicious when grilled. The “cavaco” (lobster family) is well known and very tasty, as well as spider crab, music shell, octopus, and calamari. Cozido das Furnas (meat and vegetable stew cooked in sealed pots in the hot springs) is an incredibly tasty dish. These delicacies are abundant throughout the islands. The best local wine is the Verdelho Pico and is served as an aperitif or digestive. You must also try the traditional “vinho de cheiro” (American grape wine) found in most islands. Activities The Azores is a paradise for lovers of nature. It is an excellent destination for whale and dolphin watching, for example, where over 25 species have been identified in the region. The best time to view them is between the months of June and September when they feed off the coastal waters. Deep-sea fishing is also well catered for. Boats can be chartered at the coastal times for this purpose, whilst a licence is required to for fresh water fishing in the rivers and lakes. As for flora and fauna the islands are home to over 50 native species of plants and it is also an excellent destination for bird watching. For lovers of fine architecture, visiting the World Heritage town of Angra do Heroismo is a must.