Quick Stops in Ponta Delgada, Portugal

Ponta Delgada is located on Sao Miguel Island, the largest island in the Azores. It became the capital of the Azores island chains in the 16th century, and thus, you can expect a lot of historical buildings and structures scattered all over the place. Some of these structures, like the Portas de Cidade (a three arched monument in the square) are remains of an earlier structure – in this case, the entrance gates to the city. However, there are still some historical structures that managed to survive until today, as well as some interesting natural wonders that can be enjoyed.

Sao Sebastiao Church

This parish of Sao Sebastiao Church in Ponta Delgada was built back in the 15th century, and thus carries with it some very interesting architectural influences which were pretty common in those days. It is situated in front of the square with various cafes. Although the exterior of the church is nothing really fancy, the inside of the church is where you’ll find all the beauties of this church. There are intricate wood carvings all around, with chandeliers lining the halls. Then there is magnificent altar, with one main altar in the middle and two smaller ones on each side. Unlike other churches and cathedrals, Sao Sebastiao Church doesn’t have much art works and stained glass windows, but their absence only intensifies that simple charm of the church.

Forte de Sao Bras

This fort was built back in the 16th century in order to protect the area from pirate attacks. Naturally, the Forte de Sao Bras has been adopted by the military and now serves as a military museum. Although the fort dates back to centuries ago, much of the contents of the museum are military equipments from World War I. The building itself may not seem impressive to most, but the views from the windows and the walls of the vast blue sea is quite refreshing. This attraction is more for the military buffs and worth a quick stop over.

Gruta do Carvao

There aren’t many caves in Ponta Delgada, but what they do have is enough to suit any casual explorer. One such cave is the Gruta do Carvao. Take note that this is a lava tunnel, and not a limestone cave, so don’t expect any stalactites hanging from the ceilings. Gruta do Carvao, which is estimated to be somewhere at 5000 or more years old, is the longest lava tunnel in Sao Miguel – over a kilometre long, although it may be longer as there are still studies conducted to measure and explore the rest of the tunnels. However, you won’t be able to visit the whole length of the cave, but what is open to the public is nice enough for a quick stop. There are guided tours to the cave, with a video presentation before descending into the tunnels.

Ponta Delgado may not hold much sway for the adventurous and the thrill-seeking traveller, but if you are one of those casual travellers who are looking for some relaxing and interesting stroll, you may just find it here.

Photo by vogoa on Flickr