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Santa Cruz da Graciosa



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Small, with low-lying lands only «betrayed» by its vulcanic origins, the «gracious» island presents, as its name indicates, one of the most peaceful and soothing landscapes of the Azores archipelago.

Naturally attracted by any prospect of excitement, visitors, although enjoying the tranquil scenery of farms and vineyards, are bound to search its most known site, Furna do Enxofre (sulphur cave), where they can descend flights of stairs leading to the bowels of a vulcanic crater.

At the bottom lies a cavern with a mysterious lake, and there are peepholes to watch the ominous bubbling grey liquid, although no vulcanic eruption has been observed since the island's occupation by man.

The capital, Santa Cruz da Graciosa, on the northern coast, displays a 16th-century Mother Church and a small etnographic museum with naive collections, among others, of toys, kitchenware, furniture and mementoes sent by the local inhabitants who emmigrated to the United States. Nest door, visitors can observe a whaling boat.

The Graciosa island is also known for the thermal springs of Carapacho, discovered in 1750 and now being adequately exploited, and for the picturesque monte da Ajuda, a hill lodging a 16th-century fortified chapel decorated with 18th-century tiles.

The local gastronomy includes caldeirada (a stew with several kinds of fish) and bodião, a kind of roasted perch, besides traditional sweet recipes, the famous verdelho wine (a medium-dry tawny made from white grapes), and an aged brandy.

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