Angra: Today and in Bygone Days

This itinerary allows you to visit the main points of interest and landmarks of the city of Angra do Heroísmo. Traveling through five centuries of history, you will get to know the built heritage of the different periods and styles which is a testament to the experiences of a cosmopolitan port city that opened the world to new worlds. Its geostrategic position is intertwined with the rectilinear and modern layout of its streets. Opened to the sea, Angra was an unavoidable stop during the Age of Discovery, an oasis to navigators in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a harbor sheltering them from pirates and privateers who coveted its riches and diversity.

Devastated by an earthquake on January 1, 1980, Angra knew how to stoically rebuild itself without erasing the typical character of its streets, monuments and houses. Walking along its streets and searching for the historical and architectural landmarks that led this city to be listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1983 is one of those things that you cannot afford to miss.

Its centrality, its rich soil, its safe bay and its monumentality have turned Angra do Heroísmo into a city whose historical importance is recognized throughout the world. Linked to maritime expansion, this port city was an unavoidable stop for the fleets from South America, Africa and the Indies. Here people traded in spices, precious metals from the Americas, fine fabrics, wood, ivory, temperas and religious imagery. Angra was the center of the world, and it was where Philip II built his greatest fortress, considered to be the largest stronghold of Europe, following the 1580-83 succession crisis, during which heroically Portugal was only the island of Terceira, the last remaining piece of the former kingdom. In 1828, Angra once again demonstrated its bravery as it was once more named the capital of Portugal. Angra became the center of Liberalism and the place from where the men who would write the first Constitutional Charter left. The city would be honored in 1837 by Queen Maria II with the highest insignia of the Portuguese State – the Grand Cross of the Military Order of the Tower and Sword, of Valor, Loyalty and Merit. As a result of its role during the civil war, the titles “Always Constant” and “Heroísmo” [Heroism] were added to the motto “Very Noble and Loyal,” which it had been awarded after the Restoration.

This is an enchanting city not only because of its history and culture but also because of its architecture, nature and people. Along the narrow streets covered with Portuguese cobblestone, bakeries tempt you with traditional pastries, grocery stores make you go back in time and the bay invites you to simply wander along the streets or to plunge into the clear waters of the Atlantic taking advantage of a small sandy beach.

The hill Monte Brasil, an old sea volcano, is the largest and most well preserved of its kind in the Azores. Located at the southern end of the city and surrounded by a fortress, it is a mystical place. There is a walking trail marked with signs in the middle of lush flora. Along the walk, you can stop at different viewpoints until you reach the final destination, the Pico das Cruzinhas [Peak of Small Crosses], which affords a sublime, 180-degree view over Angra do Heroísmo from Ribeirinha to São Mateus.

This itinerary can be done on foot, by car or even by bike and you can manage your time in the most convenient way. It is advisable to do it in one or more days. The important thing is to enjoy the walk and to make the most of the landscape you will find along the way.

This tourist route was inspired by a book of great historical importance written by Humberto Oliveira under the tile Angra na Visão de Linschoten [Angra as Seen by Linschoten].

Useful Information

Recommended time: 1 to 2 days

Level of difficulty: Easy

Clothing: Most of the route runs through the city streets and they are all in good condition. The pavement in the city stands out for being cobbled, but the parts further away from the city center (as is the case of the hill Monte Brasil) are in wooded areas, so it is advisable to wear comfortable footwear.

Season: You can enjoy this route at any time of the year; however, it is important to be aware of the changes in the opening hours that may occur and of the fact that many of the monuments are closed on weekends and holidays.

Booking: If you plan ahead of time by using the services of a travel agency or by booking directly with a guide, you can enjoy some additional activities along the way, such as boat trips that recreate the arrival of ships to the city or even a lunch or snack based on the past of the city of Angra.

Downloads: Angra Today and in Bygone Days