The municipality of Velas da Ilha de São Jorge is, since April 2018, “The Cheese Capital” of the Azores.
The island of São Jorge is 54 km long and 6.9 km wide. It has a total area of 243.9 km and inhabits 9 171 people (Census 2011). It is part of the so-called Triangle Islands of the central group of the Azores Archipelago and its highest point reaches 1053 metres of altitude, the Pico da Esperança.
Queijo de São Jorge D.O.P (Protected Designation of Origin) maintains the traditional way of production and is one of the most highly regarded products at regional, national and international level, thus being the ex-libris of the gastronomy of the island of São Jorge.
The municipality of Velas is located on the south coast of the island of São Jorge and is probably one of the oldest settlements on the island. It has 119, km2 of the area and has 5,398 inhabitants (Census 2011). The municipality is divided into 6 parishes and is limited to the east by the municipality of Calheta, as well as its entire coastline is bathed by the immense Atlantic Ocean.
The municipality has a lot to offer, and one of the greatest attractions is the beauty of its fajãs. Fajã do Ouvidor and its beautiful Poça Simão Dias, Fajã da Ribeira da Areia, Fajã d’Além, Fajã das Almas, Fajã de Vasco Martins and Fajã de João Dias are some of those you can and should visit.
Besides the fajãs and the unmissable cheese, the island has belvederes that do not go unnoticed by those who visit them. The Vigia das Baleias and the Ponta dos Rosais with its beautiful lighthouse are a must to stop at one of the places that allow a stunning sea view. The forest parks are also one of the attractions of the county, first of all, the Macelas Park and the Sete Fontes Forest Park.
Another of the island’s attractions is its impressive walking trails. The PRC5 SJO Fajã de Além and the PR4 SJO Pico do Pedro – Pico da Esperança – Fajã do Ouvidor are dazzling and challenge sports lovers.
Besides the natural landscapes, the municipality also has heritage buildings that are worth a visit. The Torre Velha or Sineira da Urzelina, the Museum of Sacred Art (situated in the Igreja Matriz das Velas), the Paços do Concelho building, the Urzelina mills and the Jardim da República are all fascinating places.