Azores Adventures – Futurismo

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Graciosa island

The island resembles a canvas sprinkled with the white of houses, red of the mills’ domes amongst the green vegetation, and the ocean blue.

The sweet-smelling aroma of the ocean hangs in the air roaming through nature, as simplicity and quietude will follow you anywhere around this astonishing island.

About Graciosa island

Graciosa Island has an incredible volcanic heritage, where the strength of nature reigns. There are secrets to discover, volcanic caves to explore, and easy trails for the whole family to walk together! Welcome to Graciosa and its impressive geological composition.

Graciosa island is also known as the White island due to its geological characteristics and some locations names such as Pedras Brancas, Serra Branca and Barro Branco. It is classified as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, along with Corvo and Flores islands. 

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Geography

With a total area of 61 km2, Graciosa is only 10 km long and 7 km wide. It is then the second smallest island of the archipelago, after Corvo. About 4,800 people live on this volcanic island.

With Pico, Faial, Sao Jorge and Terceira, Graciosa is part of the Central Group of the Azores, being the Northernmost one of this specific group. The closest island to Graciosa is Sao Jorge, only 37km away. The highest point of the island is Caldeira da Graciosa, up to 405m high above sea level. 

Economy

In the 17th century, the base economy of Graciosa is agriculture, with the exportation of wheat, barley and dairy products. At that time, the island also produces Roccella tinctoria, used for dyes. In addition to agriculture, fishing had an important role in the island’s development. 

Another source of wealth was wine. Thanks to the local Aguardente and diverse wines, the island managed to build a reputation, selling their product in the whole Portuguese territory. However, sometimes nature can be unpredictable. Drought periods alongside natural disasters came up and marked difficult times for the island. In the 19th century, the vines got sick and production went significantly down.

Whaling was practiced on this island in 1889 and manufacturing production ended in 1982. Today it is still possible to see some whaling evidences at Museu da Graciosa with the boats that were used.

Nowadays, it is the production of dairy and meat that run the island, in addition to agriculture (corn, vegetables and fruits) as well as responsible tourism. 

History

The date of the first contact with Graciosa Island is unknown. It is believed that Graciosa was discovered by Portuguese sailors around 1427, at the same time as the other central islands. In the next decade, there is proof of cattle arriving on the island. However, even though cattle have arrived, on the official documents, the discovery of the island is indicated on May 2, 1450. The island will begin to be populated around the 1470s.

During the 16 and 17th centuries, Graciosa was attacked several times by privateers and pirates who destroyed civil and religious buildings but also kept locals captive. Despite what it has been through, Graciosa is today a peaceful island where nature reigns.

Nature & Geology

Graciosa is the least mountainous island of the Azorean archipelago, with its highest point at only 405m above sea level. But this low elevation gives Graciosa a nice temperate oceanic climate, with less rain than in the other islands.

UNESCO classified Graciosa Island as a Biosphere Reverse. The White Island – called like this due to the presence of trachyte, a volcanic rock that acquires this color with time – is definitely a good stop for slow tourism in the Azores.

There is one beach on the island, located at Praia, but the main attraction is without any doubt the Caldeira. This volcanic cavity is unique thanks to its size, shape and origin. With an exuberant forest of cryptomeria, acacia and pine, it is one of the main geosites of the Azores, with international relevance and scientific, educational and tourist value.

WHY VISIT GRACIOSA

  • Thermal Tourism

    The wonderful Termas do Carapacho are located by the sea, at a temperature varying between 35-40ºC . There you can enjoy hydromassage baths and Vichy showers.

  • Cultural heritage

    Flemish-inspired windmills and vineyards located on the coast are part of the characteristic landscape of Graciosa island.

  • Watching rare birds

    Rare species have been observed in the islet of Praia, such as the endemic sea bird Painho-de-monteiro.

  • Top Sights in Graciosa island

    Things you must see in Graciosa island

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