Ponta Delgada – visiting the capital

When you stay on the island of São Miguel, you must certainly plan to visit its capital. There are lots of attractions: various museums, beautiful parks, all styles of restaurants, two tobacco factories, a marina, a commercial port, “Portas do Mar” with its cruise ship terminal, a visit to the lava cave system or simply take a stroll through the historical city centre. Typical of the old town are the original cobblestones laid out in beautiful and imaginative black and white designs which are evidence of the attention to detail along its narrow streets and alleyways.

Portas da Cidade and die Igreja Matriz de São Sebastião

“Portas da Cidade” (“The City’s Doors”) is Ponta Delgada’s main landmark. It is to be found on the large square bordering “Avenida de Infante Dom Henrique”, the oceanfront promenade.
The triple arch resembles an old town gate and together with the church “Igréja Matriz de São Sebastiao” they rank among the most photographed sights of Ponta Delgada. The city’s main church, simply called “Matriz” by the citizens of Ponta Delgada, is the only one in the town with a clock tower.
It was erected between 1531 and 1547 and dedicated to the island’s first patron saint, São Sebastião, for his help against the plague, which raged on the island. From here you could start your stroll through the old town.

Ponta Delgada Ponta Delgada

The townhall

Located on “Largo da Republica” square, it boasts a statue of the island’s patron, Saint Michael. The townhall is an 18th century baroque building.
It was built as the residence of a noble family. At the beginning of the 20th century, it became the seat of Ponta Delgada’s administration.
The tower houses the oldest bell in the Azores. The ground floor of the building is used for exhibitions of local artists.

Ponta Delgada

Botanical gardens and parks

There are several well kept parks in Ponta Delgada where visitors can relax from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Jardim de Sant’Ana

This park, together with the president’s palace, “Palácio da Presidencia”, is definitely worth visiting especially for its ancient, amazingly large trees and landscaped grounds.

Sant'Ana Sant'Ana Sant'Ana Sant'Ana

Entrance: Rua de Saúde; 2 Euros entrance fee


Jardim José do Canto

Located directly next to Jardim Sant’Ana, this park leaves any nature enthusiast and garden lover awestruck.

Jardim António Borges

This municipal garden covers a little over 2.5 hectares (6 acres) and is located in close proximity to the center of Ponta Delgada, limited in the north by Avenida Antero de Quental. It was originally created as a private garden by António Borges in the 19th century. He was interested in introducing plants from all over the world to the island of São Miguel. The garden delights every botanist, photographer and nature lover with its imaginative and
elaborate design.

The big tree with Dagmar and me

The visitor merely seeking peace and harmony will not be disappointed either when strolling over the romantic bridge or relaxing on one of the benches. Several water canals pass through the park. In the old days, the aristocracy enjoyed sightseeing the park by boat. The park is maintained by the City Council all year and is well-tended.

The tabacco factories

In case the weather does not ‘play the game’, visiting one of Ponta Delgada’s tobacco factories is an interesting option to spend some time in the dry. Tobacco is grown on São Miguel, so it is not surprising that there are two factories in Ponta Delgada. They are the last two remaining ones on the island. The tobacco factory “Fábrica de Tabacos Estrela” in the Rua Santa Catarina offers guided tours every Thursday at 2 pm. The factory produces the brand “Além Mar”. During the tour you can observe the production process. Cigarettes are produced by machine using local tobaccos.

Fábrica de Tabaco Estrela
Fábrica de Tabaco Estrela Fábrica de Tabaco Estrela Fábrica de Tabaco Estrela Fábrica de Tabaco Estrela

Cigars and cigarillos, however, are all hand crafted with imported tobaccos. The exact recipe of mixing the different brands of tobaccos, called “blending”, remains the owner’s well kept secret.
“Sir” Peter, a nice Irishman who guides us through the factory, explains exactly how the cigars are rolled, packed and stored. The cigar brand “Robusto” for example, enjoys the appreciation of cigar connoisseurs both within and outside Europe.