Places to Visit

City Council

The City Council were classified as a Public Interest Property (IIP) on 30 April 1984.

The city council exists since early (at least since 1559), although first it was only a small house covered with tiles.

The city council occupies one of the most important palaces of the São Jorge island.

This building constructed in the 18th century, between 1719 and 1744, in the reign of King John V of Portugal, presents a strong, solid and imponent architecture with clear baroque characteristics. Its construction was ordered by Manuel Avelar, a member of one of the richest families which resided in São Jorge in the 18th century.

The coat of arms in its door was made with stone removed from Pico Alto, Toledo.

Regarding this building’s construction, it includes a baseboard made of basaltic stone from the islands and it lies on an extensive frieze. The main Gate is flanked by two baroque columns. On its left side, it has two doors that, during the initial construction, were two windows, which correspondent to the access area to the barn for the storage of cereals. Above the façade, the Portuguese arms appear, engraved in black natural basalt stonework.

On the right side of this magnificent gate, there are two windows which, also on the 18th century, belonged to the area which served as a prison for women; the male prison was located on the North side. Many years later, the building was enriched with a clock and bell tower, made out of wood and tuff in 1883. However, upon the City Council’s decision, the bell stopped ringing in 1884 and the tower was removed in 1936.

Before this building was occupied by the City Council, besides the above-mentioned prison, it accommodated the court of Velas.

Ermida das Almas - Império do Canto

The impérios [Small Temples] are buildings aimed for the exhibition of elements of the Holy Spirit’s cult, namely the crown, the banner and the staffs.

Built in the 18th century, it belonged to the Cunha da Silveira family and was restored, in 1874, by José Pereira da Cunha da Silveira. In 1912, it was no longer open to public and it is currently held by the Small Temple of the Holy Spirit, which uses it to store the insignias devoted to the Holy Spirit: crown, plate, sceptre, banner and staffs. The Brotherhoods of the Holy Spirit ensure the continuity of the worship of the Holy Spirit which was brought to the Azores by the Franciscans Order, in the mid-16th century. The festivities of the Holy Spirit, which are still carried out in São Jorge with great enthusiasm, begin on the Sunday following Easter and continue until the Sunday of the Trinity. This is a period of great importance in the community’s social life, which coincides with the arrival of Spring. In the 16th century, nearby the Capela das Almas, there was one of the oldest chapels erected in the island, the Chapel of Santo António The Abbot, in the meantime demolished, in the second half of the 19th century.

At the Holy Spirit’s weekend, the festivity of império do Canto (small temple) is carried out, with the performance of a philharmonic band, bazaar and sale of local products. The crown of the Holy Spirit is exhibited, in a replica of the small temple in wood, in a prominent place; alms are also distributed on Saturday and the traditional bolos de véspera are distributed on Sunday (round and flat cakes, with a quite hard consistency with marks made bread stamp, which used to identify the richest houses).