Portugal has a lot to offer, but the Azores are a specialty of a different kind. From winegrowing and culinary specialties to sights, myths and legends - embark on a journey through the Azores with us!
The Azores - a rediscovered gold mine
The Azores are a group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean that, according to historical accounts, were discovered by the Carthaginians before our era. However, the coordinates were not noted at the time and so the islands disappeared from people's memories for several hundred years before they were rediscovered by the Portuguese in the 14th century and recorded geographically.
Wrong name by mistake
The name “ Ilhas dos Acores ”, as the archipelago is called in Portugal, means in direct translation “island of the hawks”. There are no hawks in this region - the native buzzards were accidentally misinterpreted and led to this actually "wrong" name.
Doesn't Atlantis exist?
Who has never heard of the legendary city of “ Atlantis ” that sank into the depths of the sea along with all its inhabitants? Today, some experts believe that Atlantis may actually have existed in a modified form. Reference is made to the centuries-long disappearance of the Azores , which may have sown the seeds of this legend.
All good things are 9
Let's move away from the history and legends of the Azores and turn to the present. At the present time, 9 major islands are known that make up the Azores:
- Sao Miguel
- Santa Maria
- Sao Jorge
In addition, several small, uninhabited islands belong to the Azores, but they are mostly ignored.
Interesting facts about the region
As far as the flora and fauna of the Azores are concerned, they developed very individually due to the distance to the mainland. As a result, the laurel forests typical of the Azores were able to develop, which have meanwhile been increasingly displaced by the import of foreign plant and tree species.
Except for one species of bat, there are originally no mammals on the islands at all. However, this species poverty is offset by the biodiversity of native marine life. Over 500 different species of fish live on the coasts, and 38 species of whales and dolphins can be distinguished!
Viticulture in the Azores
Due to the volcanic soil and the favorable climate, the Azores region has had numerous vineyards since ancient times. However, a relatively large part was destroyed by pests such as powdery mildew and phylloxera. Today, viticulture is concentrated only on the three islands
The wine produced here may be called “ Vinho Regional ” and bear the nickname of the Acores (Azores).
Originally, Azorean wines were made for purely religious purposes and served as altar wine in the numerous, mainly Roman Catholic, churches.
The specificity of Azores wines
The range of wines produced in the Azores is almost exclusively limited to acidic white wines. The associated vines are mainly grown in the following provinces:
- Fernao Pires
Special feature : Wines used to be fortified to make them storable for transport. This method of improved storage is still used in the Azores today.
The fermentation process is interrupted by “spriting”, i.e. the addition of selected spirits, and the wines reach an alcohol content of over 17% .
Azores wine: tips for connoisseurs
Azores wines are particularly suitable for lovers of quality white wines who prefer a sour aroma.
The grape variety “ white Verdelho ” native to the Mediterranean region is used specifically for the production of the typical wines. The " Vinho Comun" and the "Vinho Passado" are probably the most popular and well-known types of wine that are produced from these vines.
But lovers of red wine will also find suitable specimens in the variety of Azores wines. The “ Vinho do Cheiro ”, a rich wine from the Pico region, impresses with its strong strawberry aroma, high alcohol content and unique, sour taste.
Tip: By the way, the Azores are not only famous for their wines, but also for the fish they offer. Due to the large variety, there is a suitable appetizer for almost every taste, with canned tuna in particular being a delicacy.
The Azores in numbers - 10 facts about the archipelago
Sao Miguel is the main island and the largest island of the Azores with an area of almost 747 square kilometers.
The nine main islands are divided into three subgroups:
> Group Central: Pico, Sao Jorge, Terceira, Faial and Graciosa
> Group Ocidental: Flores and Corva
> Group Oriental: Sao Miguel and Santa Maria
Pico Volcano, on Pico Island, is the highest mountain in Portugal .
There is no snow or frost in the Azores. The only exception are higher mountains, whereby the Pico volcano is often snow-covered.
The wine-growing areas on the island of Pico , with a size of 987 hectares, were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004.
There are now four airports in the Azores that can be reached from all over the world. In addition, the proportion of tourists, mainly from European and North American countries, has increased rapidly in recent years.
German vacationers only have to take their identity card with them when vacationing in the Azores - no other documents are required, since the Azores are part of Portugal and therefore part of the European Union.
More than 12,000 hectoliters of wine are produced in the Azores every year. This corresponds to a volume of 12 million liters .
In order to protect the vineyards from being destroyed by salt water and strong winds, the cultivation areas are fenced off with stacked lava stones .
- In addition to various types of wine, a brandy called Aguardente is produced on the island of Graciosa , which is also known and loved worldwide.
A visit to the Azores can prove very interesting and educational not only for wine lovers but also for those curious and interested in history.
Due to the mild climate, a holiday on the Atlantic archipelago is worthwhile at practically any time of the year. The islands appear in all their colorful splendor, especially during the autumn late harvest, accompanied by the sweet smell of the ripe grapes.
about the author
Inara Muradowa is an SEO expert and corporate blogger. In addition to technical search engine optimization and SEO consulting, she actively supports companies with the conception and writing of professional blog posts.