Santa Maria

Heritage

Architecture

Some houses of Vila do Porto showcase traces from the early times of settlement, namely arched doors and widows with features from the Manueline style. The original building of the Nossa Senhora da Assunção Church, which was later rebuilt, is proof of what may have been the first church built on Azorean soil. At the São Brás Fort, the cannons pointed towards sea recall the times of pirate attacks.

The parish of Anjos is dominated by a statue of Christopher Columbus. As far as history goes, this navigator at the service of Castile attended a Mass celebrated in the Nossa Senhora dos Anjos Chapel. Thus the Genoese navigator fulfilled on Azorean soil the promise he made during an intense storm that endangered his fleet. Only the side arched door remains from the original architecture of the chapel.

Manual labour became more refined in Santo Espírito, where the Nossa Senhora da Purificação Church stands out for its curvy stone works. The baroque façade, in s formats, contrasts with the right geometry of the bell tower, where basalt and lime are mixed until they come to rest on a pyramid covered with tiles.

Various colours can also be seen on the traditional homes of Santa Maria, marked by a rectangular format with around chimney on top of an incomplete pyramid. Each place on the island adopts a different colour in order to create a contrast against the white masonry – blue, yellow, green and… red ochre (almagre), which is typical in Almagreira and is an earthy, reddish colour that was used to glass pottery.

In Ribeira Grande and Azenhas de Baixo, the story about the mills used to move grinding stones by the power generated by water is well know. The landscape is also marked by windmills, with their typical wood handles to which the spades were tied.

Handicrafts

Although the production of pottery has virtually come to an end on the island, other works are still done on manual weaver's loom, supported by the local handicraft cooperative (Cooperativa de Artesanato de Santa Maria). Table cloths, flax shirts, bedspreads and wool jerseys are some of the pieces that are made by local artisans.

Highlights