Santa Maria Island
The date of the discovery of Santa Maria is unknown. It is known, however, that it was sighted by Portuguese caravels in 1427 and that Gonçalo Velho Cabral, a navigator serving under Prince Henry and a member of the Order of Christ, landed in Santa Maria and later became its Captain-Donatory. The first of the Azores islands to be populated. In 1439 a handful of pioneers disembarked from the caravels to settle in Praia dos Lobos along the Capitão river. João Soares de Albergaria, the nephew and heir of the Captain-Donatory encouraged settlement in Santa Maria by bringing in families from mainland Portugal, particularly the Algarve region.
Santa Maria had developed immensely by the end of the 15th century, when the first town charter in the Azores was granted to Porto, subsequently re-named Vila do Porto.
Until the end of the 18th century the island's prosperity was based on woad, which was abundant and considered the best in the archipelago, and orchil, exported to the dyers of Flanders, and wheat which was supplied to the mainland and the Portuguese strongholds in North Africa.
Its proximity to the European and African coasts led to a visit by Christopher Columbus in 1493 on his return from his first voyage to America, to fulfil a religious promise and seek provisions.
As he was thought to be a common pirate, the governor of the island ordered his arrest until the reasons for his visit were made clear. The real pirates came during the 16th and 17th centuries, when English, French, Turkish and Algerian privateers attacked. They ransacked the area, despite the fortifications that had been built, plundering and setting fire to buildings and capturing local people to serve as slaves and hostages.
In 1616 the island was occupied for five years by Moroccan pirates who also committed countless atrocities in 1675, which included flogging local people with iron bars.
Concentrating on agriculture, particularly large vineyards, wheat, maize, potatoes, yams and apples, and on livestock and dairy produce, life on Santa Maria remained untroubled during the 18th and 19th centuries, apart from the contingent of local young men involved in the Mindelo landing and the siege of Porto in 1832 during the Liberal Wars. The 20th century brought new dynamism and progress to the island, particularly with the construction of the airport in 1944, which proved to be of great strategic importance during the Second World War and an obligatory stopover for all transatlantic flights until the end of the 1960s. The introduction of new types of planes which could fly longer distances led to a reduction in traffic at the airport and the future of the island is focused on making the best use of its natural resources and geographical location.
The Island of Santa Maria, which is intersected by deep bays, has an area of 97.42 km2. It is 17 km long and 9.5 km at its widest point. A low plateau is followed by a hilly area which rises to 590 m at Pico Alto, its highest point. It is located at longitude 28°08’ west and latitude 37°43’ north.
THE HOLY SPIRIT FESTIVAL
This festival is celebrated on all the islands although it varies in detail from one to another and even within different areas of the islands themselves. All the parishes in each island have a chapel, known as an "Império" (empire), with its own brotherhood. These are considered the most typical in the islands' tradition of religious festivals.
Location: Throughout the archipelago
Date: May to September and in particular the 7th Sunday after Easter
Event organisation: The Holy Spirit Brotherhoods
An event associated with the grape harvest and the subsequent production of wine.
Place: Island of Santa Maria
Event organisation: Festival committees
"MARÉ DE AGOSTO" FESTIVAL
A festival dedicated to different types of music, ranging from rock and jazz to Portuguese folk music, in which artists from many countries perform.
Place: Municipality of Vila do Porto on the Island of Santa Maria
Date: 22 to 25 August
Event organisation: "Maré de Agosto" Cultural Association
PLACES TO VISIT
"LUGAR DOS ANJOS"
The place where Christopher Columbus' men landed for the first time. In addition to the chapel built to commemorate this event, there is also a recreational area with a natural swimming pool.
"PRAIA", "S. LOURENÇO", "ANJOS" AND "MAIA" BAYS
The white sands in each of the bays are particularly striking. The "S. Lourenço" bay also has the distinctive shape of a giant shell, composed of vine terraces leading down to the sea.
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T01 PASSEIOS EM VEÍCULOS TODO O TERRENO E OUTROS VEÍCULOS AUTOMÓVEIS
T02 PASSEIOS EM BTT MOTO 4 E OUTROS
T03 PASSEIOS EM SEGWAY, SCOOTERS
T05 TERMAS, SPA
T07 PARQUES TEMÁTICOS
T08 CENTROS EQUESTRES E HIPÓDROMOS
T09 PASSEIOS A CAVALO OU EM BURRO, PASSEIOS EM CHARRETTE
T10 PASSEIOS EM PERCURSOS PEDESTRES E INTERPRETATIVOS, OBSERVAÇÃO DE FAUNA E FLORA
T11 ESPELEOLOGIA, ALPINISMO, MONTANHISMO
T12 RAPPEL, SLIDE, BUGGY JUMP, CANYONING
T13 PASSEIOS EM AERONAVES (ATÉ 6 PESSOAS)
T14 BALONISMO, PARAPENTE, ASA DELTA
T15 ANIMAÇÃO AMBIENTAL “TURISMO DE NATUREZA”
T16 INSTALAÇÕES PARA CONGRESSOS, SEMINÁRIOS, COLÓQUIOS E CONFERÊNCIAS
T17 ORGANIZAÇÃO DE VISITAS A MUSEUS, MONUMENTOS HISTÓRICOS E OUTROS LOCAIS DE RELEVANTE INTERESSE TURÍSTICO
T18 ORGANIZAÇÃO DE CONGRESSOS E EVENTOS DE VÁRIA NATUREZA
T19 ATIVIDADES DE GINÁSIO
T20 OUTRAS ATIVIDADES DE ANIMAÇÃO TURÍSTICA
M01 ALUGUER DE EMBARCAÇÕES A MOTOR COM/SEM TRIPULAÇÃO
M02 ALUGUER DE EMBARCAÇÕES À VELA COM/SEM TRIPULAÇÃO
M03 PASSEIOS TURÍSTICOS (VELA/MOTOR), TAXI MARÍTIMO
M04 CANOAGEM, WINDSURF, ALUGUER DE PEQUENAS EMBARCAÇÕES
M05 MERGULHO, ESCAFANDRISMO
M06 CENTRO DE MERGULHO
M07 ESCOLA DE MERGULHO
M08 ESTAÇÃO DE ENCHIMENTO
M09 ALUGUER DE EQUIPAMENTO DE MERGULHO
M10 PESCA TURÍSTICA E DESPORTIVA
M11 OBSERVAÇÃO DE CETÁCEOS
M12 ATIVIDADES EM MARINAS, PORTOS DE RECREIO