The Azores (Os Açores)
Your next vacation to Portugal should include the Azores. Some say that the Azores (Açores in Portuguese) is the most beautiful of all the Portuguese territories. With fantastic blue lagoons, green rolling hills and flowers seemingly bursting out of every nook, one soon loses all knowledge of the troubles left behind. The Azores is truly a feast for the senses, with the scent of the ocean, crisp and clean as it caresses the gentle beaches. The sounds of birds chirping from old growth forests that seem bathed in sunlight, you could be forgiven if you thought you were in heaven. The Azores is absolutely stunning and a perfect place to travel.
Nestled in the mid-Atlantic ocean, the Azores is made up of 9 islands in total, and has a combined land area of 2,355 sq km. The Azores is classified into three groups of islands, The Eastern Group which is composed of the capital Sao Miguel and Santa Maria, the Central Group of which includes Graciosa, Terceira, Faial, Sao Jorge and Pico and the The Western Group of Flores and Corvo. Each one of these islands offers something unique, and are all worth visiting. And as mentioned in a previous post, the Azores historically , has had very little industry, and that means that it is one of the least polluted places on Earth. Each island has something a little different to offer you on your travels, but the common theme is tranquility. There is no doubt that the Azores is the perfect place for those looking for a quiet, peaceful vacation experience in Portugal.
An autonomous region of Portugal since 1439, the Azores was discovered in 1427 by Goncalo Velho, a Portuguese explorer sailing for the legendary Prince Henry The Navigator, while on an expedition westward. The Azores islands were not inhabited when discovered, and there was no indication of any civilization on any of the islands, contrary to myths espoused by some who believe the Azores to be the resting place of the lost city of Atlantis.
The origins of the name Azores (Açores) in Portuguese, is contested by Historians. Many suspect that the name originates from the word Azures or Azul, meaning blue in Portuguese. Others speculate that the Azores got it's name from goshawk (Açor) in Portuguese, but since that bird did not exist on any of the islands, it is assumed by historians that it is unlikely that the Azores was named after the bird. Still others believe that the original inhabitants on the islands may have misclassified a local bird called the (Buteo buteo) buzzard as the Açor, once again lending credence to the goshawk as the original inspiration for the name Azores. To the Azorean people there are no conflicting theories, to them the Azores synonymous with the goshawk, as can be seen in their regional flag.
There is much to do in the Azores, from boat cruises, to whale watching expeditions. Recently, echo-tourism has become very popular on the islands, with nature walks and cycling becoming popular. There are also off-road ATV excursions that are absolutely amazing and not to be missed if you are Vacationing in Portugal.
In the next posts I will tell you more about the Azores with emphasis on the individual islands, so stay tuned to Portugal Vacations.