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GETTING TO SĂO JORGE
Sata Air Açores, the regional airlines, has daily flights to this island, departing from Ponta Delgada or Lajes airport in Terceira Island; in this last case, the flight takes about 30 minutes.
There is also a ferry to Săo Jorge Island; leaving Faial Island, it takes one hour and fifteen minutes, stopping at S. Roque do Pico and Madalena; departing from Pico Island, it takes 30 minutes, and two hours and thirty minutes when departing from Terceira. The duration of the journey can depend upon the company chosen being the indicated times the least the trips can take. You should get information at your lodging or at the specialised companies or travel agencies mentioned in this guide.

LOCALISATION
Located 38ş 24’ N and 28ş 33’ W, the island is 20 km (11 miles) distant from Pico Island, 40 km (21 ,6 miles) south from Graciosa Island, 30 km (16, 2 miles) east from Faial Island and 60 km (32, 4 miles) east of Terceira Island. Its surface is of 246 sq km (95 sq miles), with 56 km (30, 2 miles) length and 8 km (4, 3 miles) width.

DISCOVERY AND SETTLEMENT
Although the date of its discovery is not certain, Graciosa Island was already inhabited in 1470. Its settlement began in Topo with Guilherme Silveira.

TRANSPORTS
To visit the island, one can rent a car, use a taxi or travel in the local bus lines, which cover the major village-places of the island.

PLACES TO VISIT

From Pico da Esperança, the highest peak in the island with 1000 metres of altitude, one can admire the other islands of the central group: Terceira, Graciosa, Faial and Pico. The vegetation that covers the hillsides offers a rare beautiful landscape sight.

The abasement of the hill gave birth to flat areas called Fajăs. Worthy of mention are Fajă do Ouvidor, Fajă dos Vimes, Fajă dos Cubres, Fajă de S. Joăo, Fajă Grande, and Fajă da Caldeira de Santo Cristo, the only place in the Azores where cockles can be found. Only a few of these fajăs have car access.

Topo parish, with its lighthouse and an islet where colonies of sea birds nest, is located in the east extremity of the island. Algar do Montoso is the perfect place for speleologists. The visits to the caves must be accompanied with a qualified guide.

Furna das Pombas, an underground hollow in Urzelina place, and the forest park of Fontes are places to visit, as well as the forest park of Silveira in Ribeira Seca parish.

GETTING TO KNOW THE ISLAND

Itinerary 1
Leave Velas in direction of Ponta dos Rosais, passing through Baía de entre Morros, Parque Florestal das Sete Fontes and the parish of Rosais. In the way back, pass through Beira, and follow by the north coast passing through Toledo and Santo António. In your return through the south coast, you’ll find excellent belvederes; pass through Picos da Esperança and Caldeirinhas, and continue then through Urzelina, Ribeira do Nabo and Fajă de Santo Amaro till Velas village.

Itinerary 2
In the way to Calheta, stop at the belvedere of Ribeira do Almeida, visit Urzelina, Furna das Pombas, Manadas, and admire the view at the belvederes of Fajă das Almas and Biscoitos. Go down to Calheta village, and visit Fajă Grande. Get back by the same road, and continue through Ribeira Seca, Parque Florestal da Silveira, Pedras Brancas, Santo Antăo, to Topo, a parish located in the extreme east of the island. Here, you should visit the fishing port and the lighthouse facing the islet. Return by the same road to Ribeira Seca, and then continue through the north road of the island and stop at Fajă dos Cubres belvedere where one can admire Fajă de Santo Cristo and its lagoon. Continue the trip through Norte Pequeno, Ribeira da Aveia, Norte Grande, and stop at the belvedere overlooking Fajă do Ouvidor (you have the possibility to go down to the Fajă). In your way back, you will pass through Toledo and Beiras before arriving at Velas.

ENTERTAINMENT AND CULTURE
The cultural week of Velas takes place in the first week of July. The program includes conferences and lectures delivered by culturally relevant individuals, coming purposely to this event. Music concerts, a bovine fair and the boat race Horta-Velas-Horta complete the festival.
Calheta municipality celebrates the July Festival. During a week, the parish receives the visit of many tourists, who assist to shows, concerts, theatre and exhibitions. Sport competitions are also part of the program.


TRADITIONAL FESTIVITIES AND ETHNOGRAPHY
Beginning on Pentecost Sunday, the festivities in honour of Santo Espírito are celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion throughout the summer months.
In the handicraft, the handmade embroideries and the blankets weaved in old looms are outstanding.
The folklore is similar to the existent in other islands, being the most popular songs Să Macaio and Pezinho. Had adapted and introduced some changes to a common guitar, the locals created a wire guitar, instrument that is used to cheer up the popular festivities.

MONUMENTS

Velas de Săo Jorge
S. Jorge Church was built in 1460, and presents a valuable work in carving.
Nossa Senhora da Conceiçăo Church was built in the XVII century.
Paços do Concelho, the Town Hall, is an example of the XVII century baroque Azorean architecture, used in civil buildings.
"Torre Velha" or "Torre Sineira", in Urzelina, is the remaining tower of the primitive church destroyed by the 1808 volcanic eruption.
Santa Bárbara Church, built in the XVIII century, keeps a valuable collection of tiles. It is probably the richest temple of the island.

Calheta
Santa Catarina Church, the Mother Church, was built in the XVII century.
São Tiago Church in Ribeira Seca
Nossa Senhora do Rosário Church in Vila do Topo

GASTRONOMY
Fresh fish, quality cow meat, lobster, limpets and the famous cockle of Caldeira de Santo Cristo are usual ingredients in the tasty gastronomy of the island.
S. Jorge Cheese needs no recommendation, recognised by its unique flavour. Internationally famous, the cheese is salted during several months in rooms where the temperature is constant. It sometimes achieves a prickle flavour. We suggest a good red wine and a home made bread as accompaniments.
The cheese production is the main economic support of S. Jorge Island.

SEASIDE RESORTS
The natural pools of Velas, Fajă do Ouvidor, Fajă Grande (nearby the camping park) and Topo port are excellent bathing zones of crystal waters with inviting temperatures.

SPORT FISHING
In São Jorge Island, the sea is very abundant in fish species: seabream, grouper, porgy, axillary seabream, wrasse, bluefish, barracuda and saw fish can be captured in the several fishing grounds along the island coast, whatever fishing technique you choose.

WHALE AND DOLPHIN WATCHING
S. Jorge channel is an excellent observation point of Cetaceans, as the Northern Bottlenose or Beaked Whales. Along the coast, dolphins and pilot whales are frequent, and between April and June, Baleen Whales can also be observed.
Departing from Velas’ harbour, the visitor can book watching tours, as well as the program of swimming with dolphins.

DIVING
S. Jorge coast offers wonderful diving spots. Along Velas’ harbour, there are walls and slopes with magnificent underwater formations; in Ponta dos Rosais, big fish shoals can also be observed. There is a diving centre in Velas.

HUNTING
Pigeon and rabbit are the most abundant species in the island. Dial 295412434, the Forestry Service of S. Jorge Island, to get information about the hunting season.

HIKING
There are beautiful spots, worthy of a visit, but places of difficult access, only recommended for the most experienced. Look for information in a travel agency or at your hotel about the service of qualified guides.There are no dangerous species ou snakes in the island.

 

 

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