Ponta Delgada: An Amazing City to Explore on Sao Miguel Island
A modern and dynamic city, Ponta Delgada is the capital city of the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores. Built facing the sea in the 15th century which is located on a beautiful bay between two points. The city is the most heavily populated municipality in the Azores with just over 65,000 residents that live in this culturally rich city. The city is the center of commercial trade in the Azores with a beautiful maritime boulevard built along the ocean side, and the Portas do Mar “Gates of the Sea.” It is here where there are a plethora of unique shops, cafes, and outdoor terraces that connect to the new international cruise terminal in the marina. Once a small fishing town in centuries past, Ponta Delgada has played host to many historical events that have thrust this small town into an international, vibrant city, filled with noble palaces, churches, and meticulously laid out cobblestone roads. In the city center, we find the “Gates to the City,”; a former entrance archway from the sea to the city welcoming international visitors for hundreds of years after their cross Atlantic voyages. Goncalo Velho Cabral, the Portuguese discoverer and first commander of the Azores, stands in the town square. He is responsible for the official discovery of the Islands on behalf of the crown of Portugal. In this area, you can walk or take a pleasant horse and buggy ride through this enchanting city and explore all the unique 17th-century architecture, rich in both color and style. The city has some of Europe’s most unusual and beautiful 19th-century botanical gardens, which are open daily and filled with thousands of unique plants, trees, and flowers from all over the world. The Antonio Borges garden and the Jose do Canto botanical garden are the two most famous and most notable in the city. Next door to the Jose do Canto garden is the former Palace of the Marquees Jacome Correia, which has a smaller but well-arranged garden just outside the palace, which is now in use by the President of the Azores. The city has some beautiful hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals where you are sure to find exactly what you are looking for on your trip. Whether it is a hotel located in the middle of a 19th-century botanical garden to a 5-star hotel on the promenade with a sweeping ocean view and private balcony, Ponta Delgada has it all. One of the most exciting ways to explore the island and get a real sense of Azorean hospitality is staying at bed and breakfast in one of the former estates or manor homes that were transformed in recent decades to accommodate tourists. Manor homes from the 16th and 17th century with elaborate architecture and beautifully maintained gardens have recently been transformed into some of the most beautiful and unique places to stay in the city. The hosts are amicable and are usually the owners of the property passed down for some 200+ years, so the recent influx of tourism to the island of Sao Miguel has opened these once private homes up to be enjoyed by anyone who chooses. A vibrant and safe city with low crime rates and an international student body that attends the University of the Azores, located in the city center, makes this city a culturally rich hub in the Azores region. The spring and summer months are the most beautiful to visit. Many local celebrations and festivals in the various parish communities that are part of Ponta Delgada occur each week starting in April. The main festival of the city and the Azores is the festival of Senhor Santo Cristo, which takes place each May and attracts tens of thousands of locals and tourists to join in on this religious celebration. The city is decorated from top to bottom, with the most amazing flowers marking countless city blocks of roads with fresh flowers and festive plants. This is known as the busiest time of the year on the island in tourism, with hotel occupancy seeing its peak. The event is filled over many days, and the city square and surrounding areas play host to many fun events, celebrations, and of course, live music, all of which go into the early hours of the morning and are very fun.