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Lajes do Pico

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The county of Lajes do Pico, on the island's southern coast, boasts of interesting buildings and churches from the 17th and 18th centuries, but it is specially known for the Whalers Museum, inaugurated in 1988 after the whale processing factory was closed down in 1981, and portraying a little of the whaling history of the Azores through a variety of exhibits on the theme, from books and documentation to carved whales' teeth (scrimshaws) and a magnificent collection of boats.

Due to the zone's ancient tradition in whaling, some of the best whale-watching excursions depart, precisely, from the shores around Lajes do Pico: visitors are taken on fast boats accompanied by guides who explain the life and habits of the cetaceans and, a few miles away from the coast, they are able to enjoy an unique and magic meeting with the several especies that cross these seas, namely sperm whales, Risso's dolphins, pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins.

At the town of Lajes do Pico, it is worth visiting the Chapel of Saint Peter, from the 15th century, and the Church and Convent of Saint Peter of Alcântara (17th century), or stopping to admire the beautiful mansions with basalt masonry, long terraced varandas and small wooden turrets.

However, the county's most important patrimony is the sea and the relation man has established with it. As Vitorino Nemésio, a well-known writer born in the Azores, once put it: «Like mermaids, we have a double nature: we are of flesh and stone. Our bones sink in the sea.»

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