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The Azores consist of a group of nine volcanic islands located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, about on a parallel with Lisbon. There are frequent two-hour flights from Lisbon to three Azorean airports: Ponta Delgada (on São Miguel), Lajes (on Terceira), and Horta (on Faial). Discovered in 1427, the islands became a strategic base between Portugal and the New World. Not only were many naval battles fought here, but also the islands became a favorite target for pirates. Word quickly spread of the mild climate and fertile land of the Azores and from the 15th to the 18th centuries settlers came to the islands to make a living from agriculture, cattle, and fishing. The early settlers were very religious and soon built churches in their new homeland, with many of these baroque beauties remaining today. (Columbus came to pray in a small chapel in the Azores when making his way across the Atlantic.) Fortresses, too, hark back to this era when the Azores was a port of call for ships laden with treasures from both the Orient and the New World. It is obvious that, even though far from the homeland, the archipelago is an integral part of Portugal. The architecture is similar and many of the streets are lined with small, whitewashed houses that have windows, doors, and gables trimmed in bright hues of blue or yellow, so like what you see on the mainland. However, the most endearing feature of these remote islands is the landscape. Emerald-green fields (frequently bordered by vibrant-blue hydrangeas) terrace down to a deep-blue sea, and turquoise-colored lakes of great beauty are tucked in volcanic craters. Most of the hotels are built in a contemporary style.

HANDICRAFTS: Blue-decorated ceramics, delicate embroidery, decorative wicker, artwork created from whalebone, ship models.

Portugal Book Cover In Portugal
Karen Brown is proud to recommend

Quinta do Convento da Franqueira
Barcelos, Portugal

as featured on the
2010 edition cover of our guide.

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