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Praia da Vitória

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One of the most recent Portuguese cities, Praia da Vitória has one of the few beaches of white sand of the Azores and an architectural patrimony rich in churches and monuments from the age of the Discoveries.

The ancient name of Vila da Praia (beach town) was changed to Praia da Vitória (victory beach) in honour of the famous battle won in 1829 by the liberal defenders against the absolutist fleet of Dom Miguel.

The small city is proud of its Mother Church, founded in the 15th century and remarkable for its Gothic and Manueline features, of the beautiful 16th-century Church of Our Lord the Holy Christ, and of the interesting City Hall with a bell tower from the same period.

Rising above the sandy beach, the Fort of Saint Catherine is the only remaining defensive construction at the bay of Praia da Vitória, a symbol of the fortified walls which repelled enemy attacks during the 16th century.

Inland, the Serra do Cume mountains offer a landscape of dazzling beauty with wonderful views over the rectangular-shaped fields separated by small stone fences.

Halfway between Praia da Vitória and Angra do Heroísmo, the tiny town of São Sebastião exhibits a beautiful 15th-century church with interesting frescoes and Gothic ornaments.

A few kilometres to the northwest of Praia da Vitória, Lajes has a small whaling museum.

The magnificent volcanic caves at Algar do Carvão may also be admired and surprise visitors with their stalagmites, stalactites and interior lakes.

Like the rest of the island of Terceira, the county is crossed by narrow roads and ways amid flowers, an exhuberant vegetation and small rural villages, a refuge of serenity to which mass tourism is yet unknown.

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