, the capital of the island and seat of many departments of the Regional Government is today the most important and with around 35,000 inhabitants also the largest city in the Azores. It boasts the archipelago’s only university, which was founded in 1975 and counts about 1,000 students today. The former fishing village became capital in 1546 after Vila Franca do Campo, the up to that date principal town of the island, was almost completely destroyed by the terrible earthquake of 1522.
With the Fort São Brás being built in 1544
, the port became safer and it developed soon into the main port of the archipelago, the main merchandises being cereals, corn and pastel in the early days and later oranges, with the orange exportations reaching their climax in the 18th century. In 1861, the foundation stone was laid for a new harbour, claimed by the orange barons to create better conditions for the exportation of their delicate goods, but even when the orange trade broke down due to an insidious mycosis, the construction works on the extension of the harbour continued, creating an important base for several industries settling around it.
The impact of a thriving international trade
, particularly with Flanders and England, during the 18th and 19th century, is witnessed by Ponta Delgada’s rich architectural heritage, comprising many remarkable palaces, churches and manor houses, where the Baroque style is prevailing, mixed with curious examples of urban architecture from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, testimonies of the island’s connection with the rest of the world.
Another extension to the harbour
happened in 1940. It also included the construction of a 1,544 m long pier, whose western end is marked by the Fort of São Brás.
The flat, rectangular city
of Ponta Delgada stretches for about 3 km along a beautiful bay, with some houses sprawling on the gently sloping green hills in the backdrop, offering an extremely picturesque sight for everybody arriving from the sea. In spite of the various architectural styles, including the modern buildings of the 20th century, displayed in this pretty town, the visitor is struck by a great harmony, adding to Ponta Delgarda’s unique charm.
For your individual sightseeing
stroll through charming Ponta Delgada we would recommend you to look out for the following sights:
Fort of São Brás
Church of São José
Square of 5 de Outubro
Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Esperança and Convent
Portas da Cidada
Igreja Matriz de São Sebastião
Church of São Pedro
Igreja do Colégio de Todos-os-Santos
Public Library & Archives of Ponta Delgada
Carlos Machado Museum
Jardim Antonio Borges
Palace of Sant’Ana & Parque José do Canto
Other places of interest in the historic centre