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São Jorge

Noble São Jorge rises among the seas to fight off anyone who wants to disturb it. Like a weapon of history, it boasts a heritage on each corner and in each house. São Jorge was witness to undeniable feats. Curious, it allows itself to cut into the ocean with a coast of rare beauty, that hides niches that justify seeing and staying.

Places to Visit

Mother Church of São Jorge

Dating from the 17th century when it was built on the site of a 15th century church, the construction of this church was ordered in the testament of the Prince Dom Henrique.

Its interior consists of three naves and holds a notable 16th century retable, which was offered by the King, Dom Sebastião. There is also a painting of Our Lady with Child, a lateral, vaulted altar with panels that has at its centre the figure of the Holy Sacrament carved in basalt, and two stone pulpits with stairs. In the high choir is an organ tubes dated 1865, which was built by Tomé Gregório de Lacerda, uncle of the famous composer Francisco de Lacerda.

Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição
This 17th century church belonged to the former Franciscan convent. Inside, lovely gilt carved work and an image of the patron saint (18th century).

The Chapel of Nossa Senhora do Livramento
At the foot of the Morro Grande, this 17th century chapel has an attractive with carved stonework surrounding the entrance and window.

Town Hall
This is a good example of the Azorean Baroque style (18th century). Of note are the remarkable main door with Salomonic columns and the assembly room with a ceiling of carved cedar wood and mahogany. Here is kept a rich collection of documents about the 16th and 17th centuries.

Portão do Mar (Sea Gate)
Built in the 18th century, it was part of the ancient walls that once defended the town.

Parish Church of Santo Amaro

Has Santo Amaro for patron saint and dates back to the 18th century. It is a simple temple with altars in gold relief work.

The Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Boa Hora
This chapel, built in the hamlet of Mistério, was founded on 9th June, 1711, by Father Manuel Ferreira Madruga. It houses a bell which was offered to the chapel in 1883 by emigrants in California.

The Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Luz
This chapel, in Queimada, has a facade with projecting pillars flanking the main doorway. Inside is an 18th century image of the patron saint.

Parish Church of Urzelina
Dedicated to São Mateus, it was built in 1822 to replace and older church destroyed by a volcano in 1808. The Torre Sineira (Bell Tower), standing out from the lava, is all that remains from the old church.

Church of Santa Bárbara

Built in the 18th century, this is one of the most beautiful examples of Azorean baroque and one of the most fascinating churches in the Azores, as well as one of the most richly decorated. Having one single spire, which is square in shape, and a bell tower with three bells, the façade is simply yet beautifully decorated with basalt around the main door. The choir window has a nook holding a statue of the patron saint over it. The imposing and grand interior is a testament to the religious art of the period, and particular attention should be paid to the lovely gold relief work resplendent in the arch of the chancel; the cedar ceiling painted in the “alfarge” style with St. George and the Holy Spirit in the central medallions; the 6 panels of “azulejos” giving the history of the life, imprisonment and death of the patron saint; the retables of St. Ignacio and St. Francis Xavier; the paintings of the stages of the life of Christ, and a 16th century baptismal font carved in basalt. The vestry, with its ceiling similar to that of the church, also has some good pieces of furniture, particularly the chests and a table inlaid with the symbols of St. Barbara, dated 1799. There is some interesting statuary in a large case. This church has been listed as a national monument.

Parish Church of Rosais
Built in the 18th century, it has Nossa Senhora do Rosário as patron saint.

Sacred Art Museum
Annexed to the Matriz de São Jorge Church, this houses an interesting collection of sacred images, a painting on glass representing St. George which had place of honour in the old processions through the island with the patron saint, and valuable silver vestments, thuribles, incense holders and monstrances.

Ethnographic Museum
This museum guards a rich collection of antique and actual instruments used on the agriculture and domestic labour, such as oxcarts, handmills, ploughs, hoes, etc. The different phases of manufacturing bread and the peculiar acts of killing swine’s are dully represented in this museum. Also the traditional instruments of weaving with linen and wool: spinning-mill, distaff, winding frame, woll combs, etc. The man of S. Jorge has in the museum the faithful representation of his social and cultural heritage.

Pico da Esperança

With 1,053 metres of altitude, it is an excellent belvedere over the other island of the central group of the Azores.

Morro Grande
This hill lies just beyond the little town of Velas. From the top one can observe the vast crater of an ancient volcano, as well as a sweeping view of Velas, and in the opposite direction, the remains of the Morro Queimado volcano and, on the horizon, the picturesque São Jorge - Pico channel.

Queimada

A tip of rocky land on the coast, south of the parish of Santo Amaro. It offers a sweeping view of the town of Velas and the surrounding countryside.

Central Plateau
Given mainly to pasture and inhabited by plump spotted cows, it offers wonderful views along roads flanked by blue hydrangeas and giant heath.

Furna das Pombas
A walk along the seashore near Urzelina takes one to the Furna das Pombas, a curious volcanic rock formation that is populated by wild pigeons.

Natural Arches
The solidified lava has been corroded by the sea, resulting in natural arches and bridges along the coastline. The most interesting formations are in the Fajã de Santo Amaro and the Velas area.

Fajãs

Flat areas by the sea originated in the collapse of cliffs, were the locals built small parishes, present fertile orchards and crop fields. Due to microclimates some of them exhibit vineyards, tropical fruits and beautiful dragon trees. The Fajã de João Dias is one of the most beautiful of the municipality. A visit should also be made the Fajã do Ouvidor.

Mirante Belvedere
Overlooking Velas, it offers a magnificent view over the town with the islands of Pico and Faial in the back.

Preguiça
Is one of the main bathing zones, habitually distinguished with a Blue Flag. It has an parking, bar, shower and wc.

Porto dos Terreiros Beach
The picturesque borough of Manadas, rather rural, provides several bathing areas, like this one, commonly used for sport fishing and summer pleasures.

Fort of Urzelina
Set over the bay and the harbour, it was built in th 17th century for the parish defence.


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