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Graciosa is gracious, white and delicate, it welcomes us in a reflex of the crown of an elm with a unique harmonious gleam. It shelters nature, birds and memorable nooks that are required stops.

Places to Visit

Ilhéu da Praia (Praia Islet)

Photo by Município de Santa Cruz

This basaltic islet, measuring about 12 hectares in area and a maximum altitude of 51 meters, is mostly covered with a layer of soil.

Geological Description

It is a small islet made up of pyroclastic formations and subaerial lava flows.
The surrounding ocean bottom is made up of lava flows that are partially covered with blocks and small sandy spots in the depressed areas.

This islet is home to one of the richest and most diverse concentrations of marine birds in the Azores.

The islet is only accessible by sea. It is a mile from the port at the parish of Praia.

Geographical Coordinates
Latitude 39º03.12'N
Longitude 27º57.10'W

24 metres

Characteristic Fauna
Barred hogfish, European spider crab, large Bogue and large Ballan wrasse.

Dominant Flora
There is a prevalence of Dictyota dichotoma, Corallina officinalis, Asparagopsis armata and Cystoseira sp.

Reasonable. This area is subject to tides.

Ilhéu (Islet) de Baixo

Photo by Município de Santa Cruz

This islet is composed of remains of eroded volcanoes with important coastal plant communities on the top of the cliffs. The ocean bottom is shallow with small bays and small rocks jutting out of the ocean in addition to the two islets. On the coastline, there is a hot spring.

This is an important community of plants and minimum human influence. It is a very important nesting spot for marine birds.

The portion that is linked to the main island has an easy access. The islets are not easily accessible.

Geographical Coordinates
39º01´N 27º57´W

74 hectares

Maximum Altitude
150 metres

The Islet includes a portion of the coast of the Carapacho and Resting lighthouse area. The habitat is essentially made up of cliffs with coastal vegetation typical of Macaronesia and perennial shingle vegetation. It constitutes a section from the coast to the edge of the cliff. This area includes the Ilhéu de Baixo, whose vegetation is essentially perennial shingle vegetation and on the cliffs is coastal vegetation typical of Macaronesia.

Bbrushwood (Macaronesian brushwood), rocky areas (rocky cliffs, rocky islets, gravel areas), exotic and introduced vegetation.

Ornithological Importance
This area is especially important to nesting marine birds. It has one of the largest concentrations of the Madeiran Storm-petrel (Oceanodroma castro) in the Azores and an important colony of Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii). On the Ilhéu (Islet) de Baixo, there are two distinct populations that nest during two distinct periods of the year.

Furna do Enxofre (Sulphur Cavern)

Photo by Município de Santa Cruz

This rare volcanic phenomenon is geologically unique in the World. In interior of the caldera, the crater of an extinct volcano, there is a deep tunnel with a depth of about 100 metres. At the end of the tunnel is a large cavern with an 80-metre high vaulted roof covered with stalactites, and a subterranean lake with cold sulphurous water. The lake measures 130 metres in diameter and has a maximum depth of 15 metres.
The descent into the cavern is on a stone staircase.
The best time to visit is between eleven o'clock in the morning and two o'clock in the afternoon because the sun penetrates the interior of the cavern giving it fascinating views.

Termas do Carapacho (Hot Springs)

Photo by Município de Santa Cruz

At the base of the Caldeira (Caldera) is Carapacho and the Hot Springs with the same name.
The hot springs are frequented by people who want to take advantage of the multiple benefits of the hot waters.
Originating in the Furna do Enxofre (Sulphur Cavern), the waters, with chloride, sodium, sulphate and calcium, have been used in the treatment of rheumatism, colitis and skin disorders since 1750.
Next to the Hot Springs, on the ocean side, there is a natural pool that is very frequented during the bathing season.


Photo by Município de Santa Cruz

São Mateus has the only sandy beach on Graciosa Island. The beach is very busy in the summer months.

Barro Vermelho

Photo by Município de Santa Cruz

This recreational area with a rocky inlet becomes a pleasant bathing area in the summer. It has a small picnic park that is pleasant spot to spend a few hours with family and friends.

Municipal Swimming Pool

Photo by Município de Santa Cruz

The Piscina Municipal (Municipal Swimming Pool) is a treated and controlled salt-water pool where children and adults can learn to swim in a safe environment.

Ilhéu da Baleia (Whale Islet)

Photo by Município de Santa Cruz

A volcanic rock islet that gets its name from its form that resembles a whale. It can be seen from the Lighthouse next to Ponta da Barca.

Monte da Senhora da Ajuda (Mount of the Lady of Assistance)

Photo by Município de Santa Cruz

The Monte da Senhora da Ajuda (Mount of the Lady of Assistance) has an altitude of 280 metres and hangs over the town of Santa Cruz. From the mount, we have a wonderful view of the town and of the interior of the island.

In the middle of the mount is the town's bullring. The natural amphitheatre of the crater is used for the bullring. The three chapels that crown the mount are worth a visit. The chapels are dedicated to Our Lady of Assistance, Saint Salvador and Saint John.

Porto Afonso (Port)

Photo by Município de Santa Cruz

This is an old fishing port.
It is worth a visit because of its beautiful landscape and views.
The natural caves are used to shelter small boats.

Igreja Matriz (Mother Church) of Santa Cruz

Photo by Município de Santa Cruz

The Mother Church of Santa Cruz's main structure is one of the oldest temples of worship on the island.
It is located in the area where the first Donatary Captain of the island built his house.
The original construction is from the end of the sixteenth century with Manueline characteristics. However, a large part was rebuilt two hundred years later leaving indelible Baroque characteristics visible on the facade and on the altars.

Torre da Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Anjos (S. Francisco) (Tower of the Church of Our Lady of Angels (Saint Francis))

Photo by Município de Santa Cruz

The Tower is still standing in the town of Santa Cruz and marks the spot of the original Church of Our Lady of Angels. The church was part of a Franciscan convent that was also demolished.
The Franciscan Convent of Santa Cruz was established in 1700, with the respective church. Its construction was finished a quarter century later in 1724. However, the Franciscans had already had two other convents in Santa Cruz, the first founded in 1609 and the other began in 1621.
Chateaubriand was a guest in this convent when he passed through Graciosa while travelling between France and the United States in 1791. He referred to it as "comfortable and well-lighted".
The Convent was closed as a result of the liberal politics in Portugal, and in that same year, 1834, the friars left the island.
When the convent was demolished, the stones and wood from it were used in the construction of many of the houses of Santa Cruz.
From the time of their founding, the Church and Convent had been inseparable.
The Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Anjos (Church of Our Lady of Angels) was built between 1700 and 1708. It was in 1708 that the first mass was celebrated in the church. The church also had a chapel dedicated to Saint Barbara that was built in 1670.

Igreja de Guadalupe (Guadalupe Church)

Photo by Município de Santa Cruz

The construction of the current church began in 1713, four years before the 1717 earthquake. The church was blessed in 1756. It took so long to build because of the earthquakes.
The original chapel was the seat of the new parish and was likely built at the end of the sixteenth century in a different location from where the current church is located.

Igreja de São Mateus (Church of Saint Mathew)

Photo by Município de Santa Cruz

This church, dedicated to Saint Mathew, was originally built in the fifteenth century and its facade was altered in the sixteenth century.

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Luz (Church of Our Lady of the Light)

Photo by Município de Santa Cruz

Although the current church dates from eighteenth century, a chapel already stood here at the end of the sixteenth century. The chapel was mentioned in the sixth book of "Saudades da Terra" by Gaspar Frutuoso.

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