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Ponta Delgada (Azores)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ponta Delgada
Municipality (Concelho)
Ponta Delgada - City Hall 2.JPG
Municipal city hall and reflecting pool, with a statue of the Archangel Michael, the patron saint of the island of São Miguel, in the city's Baixa area
Coat of arms
Official name: Concelho da Lagoa
Name origin: ponta delgada, Portuguese compound word for thin point

Country  Portugal
Autonomous Region  Azores
Group Central
Island São Miguel
Municipality Ponta Delgada

Civil Parishes Ajuda da Bretanha, Arrifes, Candelária, Capelas, Covoada, Fajã de Baixo, Fajã de Cima, Fenais da Luz, Feteiras, Ginetes, Livramento, Mosteiros, Pilar da Bretanha, Relva, Remédios, Santa Bárbara, Santa Clara, Santo António, São José, São Pedro, São Roque, São Sebastião, São Vicente Ferreira, Sete Cidades

Center Lagoa Empadadas
 - elevation 761 m (2,497 ft)
 - coordinates 37°49′28″N 25°44′50″W
Highest point Éguas
 - location Sete Cidades Massif, Sete Cidades, Ponta Delgada
 - elevation 873.28 m (2,865 ft)
 - coordinates 37°49′37″N 25°45′17″W
Lowest point Sea level
 - location Atlantic Ocean
 - elevation 0 m (0 ft)

Length 25.59 km (16 mi), Northwest-Southeast
Width 12.17 km (8 mi), Southwest-Northeast
Area 233.47 km2 (90 sq mi)
 - land 206.67 km2 (80 sq mi)
 - water 4.8 km2 (2 sq mi)
 - urban 22.0 km2 (8 sq mi)
 - metro 7.95 km2 (3 sq mi)

Population 64,516 (2001)
 - urban 44,403
 - metro 20,113
Density 276.34 / km2 (716 / sq mi)

Settlement c. 1450
 - Village 29 May 1507
 - Municipality 2 April 1546
LAU Concelho/Câmara Municipal
 - location Praça do Município, São Sebastião, Ponta Delgada
 - elevation 12 m (39 ft)
 - coordinates 37°44′20″N 25°40′9″W
President Berta Maria Correia de Almeida de Melo Cabral (PPD-PSD)
Municipal Chair Dionísio Pereira Leite (PPD-PSD)

Timezone Azores (UTC-1)
 - summer (DST) Azores (UTC0)
ISO 3166-2 code PT-
Postal Zone 9504-523 Ponta Delgada
Area Code & Prefix (+351) 292 XXX-XXXX

Demonym Micalense; Ponta-delgadense
Patron Saint Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres
Municipal Address Praça do Município
Municipal Holidays Monday following the Sunday of festival of Sr. Santo Cristo

Location of the municipality of Ponta Delgada in the archipelago of the Azores
Wikimedia Commons: Ponta Delgada (Azores)

Statistics from INE (2001); geographic detail from Instituto Geográfico Português (2010)
Ponta Delgada (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈpõtɐ ˌðɛɫˈɣaðɐ]) is a city and municipality on the island of São Miguel in the archipelago of the Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal. It includes 44,403 residents in the urban area, and approximately 20,113 inhabitants in the three central parishes that comprise the historical city: São Pedro, São Sebastião, São José.
Following the revised constitution of 1976, Ponta Delgada is the administrative capital of the Autonomous Region of the Azores (the Regional Assembly is located in Horta, Faial, while the judiciary and the Roman Catholic diocese are located in Angra do Heroísmo, Terceira).



The Portas da Cidade (English: Gates to the City), the historical entrance to the village of Ponta Delgada

The center of the Baixa (English: Downtown) of Ponta Delgada, as seen from the city hall

The Colegio Convent, one of the many religious sanctuaries constructed during the 15-16th Century when Ponta Delgada was a stopover on important commercial routes between Europe and the New World
On the origin of the place's name, the famous Portuguese chronicler, Father Gaspar Frutuoso, wrote:

This city of Ponta Delgada is named for its situation located along volcanic lands, thin and not too considerable like on other islands, that lead to the sea, and where later, was constructed the chapel of Santa Clara (Saint Clare of Assisi), which was named the Santa Clara point...
Around 1450, Pero de Teive, established a small fishing village that eventually grew into Santa Clara.
Populated since 1444, the island of São Miguel was a vast territory, with small settlements scattered about, except for Vila Franca do Campo in the central-southern coast, and the community of Ponta Delgada. Villa Franca had for many years been the centre of the island, and Azorean government, but many nobles and landed gentry despised having to be subordinate to the government in that town (as well as many conflicts between these inhabitants and administrators in the southern coast).[1] The nobles in Ponta Delgada sent a secret contingent, headed by Fernão Jorge Velho, to meet with King Manuel in Lisbon to petition that the community be emancipated. In Abrantes, King Manuel conferred a foral on 29 May 1507, elevating the settlement to the status of village (Portuguese: vila).
Similarly, it was elevated to status of city, during the reign of King D. João III, by decred dated 2 April 1546, after the original capital of the island (Vila Franca do Campo) was devastated by the 1522 earthquake.
The naval Battle of Ponta Delgada (also known as the Battle of São Miguel) took place on 26 July 1582, off the coast, as part of the 1580 Portuguese succession crisis. An Anglo-French corsair expedition sailed against Spain to preserve Portuguese control of the Azores, which had aligned itself with the pretender António, Prior of Crato, thereby preventing Spanish control (it was the largest French force sent overseas before the age of Louis XIV).
It was during the 19th Century, that the municipality experienced its greatest boost of economic activity, with the funnelling of citrus exports to United Kingdom and the growth of foreign-owned businesses in the historic center, many of them Jewish merchants after 1818. Ponta Delgada was also once home to five Synagogues with the oldest surving synagogue being the Sahar Hassamain Synagogue (Gates of Heaven) in downtown part of the city As with other centres across the archipelago, the town of Ponta Delgada experienced many of the trends common for the period, including the "greening" of the communities (with the construction of the gardens of António Borges, José do Canto, Jácome Correia and Viscount of Porto Formoso, which would become part of the University of the Azores), the construction of many of the ornate homes/estates, the clearing animals from urban spaces, the opening of newer, larger, roadways, the moving of cemeteries to the periphery, and relocation of markets for fish, meat and fruits. Due to these changes, and growth of the mercantile class, Ponta Delgada became the third largest town in Portugal, in economic riches and the number of residents. The poet Bulhão Pato, writing of Ponta Delgada, was surprised by the extraordinary riches of the plantation owners, the "gentlemen farmers" that lived within the urbanized core: exporters of oranges and corn, bankers, investors, industrialists and shippers, all contributing to a privileged class of economic and social thinkers and philanthropists.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, Ponta Delgada's position was relatively high (eighth largest), although the changing importance of rural economies steadily chipped-away at its growth. But it remained the central place in the economy and hierarchy of the Azorean archipelago.


Physical geography

The municipality of Ponta Delgada is one of the larger administrative divisions in the archipelago, extending from the center of the island to the western coast. Ponta Delgada is bordered on the northeast by the municipality of Riberia Grande, and southeast by relatively new municipality of Lagoa.
Geomorphologically, Ponta Delgada covers a volcanic area composed of two structures: the Picos Region and Sete Cidades Massif. The Picos Region extends from the shadow of the ancient volcano of the Água de Pau Massif (known locally for the lake that rests within its volcanic crater: Lagoa do Fogo) until the area around the Sete Cidades caldera. It is a volcanic axial zone oriented generally in a northwest-southeast direction, essentially defined by several spatter cones and lava flows and predominantly covered by dense vegetation and pasture-lands. Its relief is relatively planar, especially along the northern and southern coasts, where many of the urban communities are located. The Sete Cidades Massif, the other geomorphological structure that makes up the municipality of Ponta Delgada, consists of a central volcanic caldera and lake-filled cones which surround the crater. It occupies the extreme western part of the island, oriented along a similar northwest-southwest orientation, with many regional radial fractures marked by lava domes and spatter cones. The Sete Cidades Volcano at the center of the Massif consists of a caldera and a polygenetic volcanic field within it, that includes four lakes (two of which Lagoa Azul, the Blue Lake, and Lagoa Verde, the Green Lake, are linked). The caldera is almost circular and has evolved over the course of three phases. The first occurred 36,000 years ago forming the collapsed principal structure. The second phase conforms to a period approximately 29,000 years ago, when volcanic eruptions collapsed the northwest part of the structure. Finally, the third phase (about 16,000 years ago) caused the collapse of the north and northeastern portions of the caldera. Geologically, within the last 5,000 years, the central cone has been active (17 eruptions) and responsible for causing most of the activity in the archipelago, during that period. These geological eruptions were essentially trachyte eruptions of the sub-Plinian or Plinian type, with hydro-magmatic characteristics. The last eruption, at about 500 years ago, gave rise to the Caldeira Seca cone. Although there has been no historical activity today, its active status continues to be debated by the scientific community.
Most recently, its diverse geography includes various types of basaltic volcanism, both effusive and less explosive (essentially Strombolian and Hawaiian) along its flanks, usually conditioned by local and radial faults. The Mosteiros Graben is also an important feature in this area, representing collapse of lands on the northwestern flank of the caldera. Although there are no active aerial volcanic characteristics (like the fumaroles of Furnas), submarine vents around the region of Ponta da Ferraria and the beach at Mosteiros have been identified.

Panorama of the Sete Cidades Massif, showing the Green and Blue Lakes of the civil parish Sete Cidades


The municipality's climate, much like the rest of the Azores, is shaped by the Gulf Stream allowing a small variation in temperatures, with annual temperatures oscillating between 15 °C and 25 °C, typical to a Mediterranean or humid subtropical climate. The Gulf Stream also contributes to an unstable weather that varies greatly during the autumn and spring, making weather forecasting on a daily basis difficult. Levels of humidity are significant enough (usually 90-100%) that temperatures fluctuations feel comparable to those experienced in locations on similar latitudes.

[hide]Climate data for Ponta Delgada, Azores (1981-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 20.2
Average high °C (°F) 16.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 14.5
Average low °C (°F) 12.2
Record low °C (°F) 4.4
Rainfall mm (inches) 96.9
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm) 22.5 19.4 19.5 19.5 18.7 16.3 15.9 15.1 18.5 20.5 20.9 22.7 229.5
Mean monthly sunshine hours 97 103 120 141 174 163 208 213 175 142 109 93 1,738
Source #1: Instituto de Meteorologia,[2] Weatherbase (some records)[3]
Source #2: NOAA (sunshine hours only) [4]

Human geography

Population of
the Municipality of Ponta Delgada
(1849 - 2011)
Year Pop.   ±%  
1849 31,344 —    
1900 52,120 +66.3%
1930 54,790 +5.1%
1960 74,306 +35.6%
1981 63,804 −14.1%
1991 61,989 −2.8%
2001 65,854 +6.2%
2008 68,748 +4.4%
2011 68,809 +0.1%

Much like other communities in the archipelago of the Azores, the municipality is shaped by its geography; most homes are clustered along the regional road network that circles the island, with many ancillary or agricultural access roads bisecting the central portion of the island (primarily in the Picos Region) along a north-south axis.
Administratively, the municipality is composed of 24 parishes, that handle development, in the defense of local social, cultural, recreative and environmental concerns:

  • Ajuda da Bretanha - new rural community, broken-off in 2002 from the parish of Bretanha, with a population of less than 1500 inhabitants;
  • Arrifes - the largest milk-producing region of the Azores, Arrifes' population in 2001 was less than 7000 inhabitants, concentrated in three areas: Milagres, Piedade, and Saude;
  • Candelária - 1184 residents lived in this community in 2001, an agricultural zone that is also highly forested;
  • Capelas - often assumed to be the location of many religious sanctuaries, this agricultural community (3,759 inhabitants in 2001) was named for the volcanic structures that populated the coastal areas;
  • Covoada - de-annexed from Relva in 1980, it is an agricultural community populated by small lakes, with 1259 inhabitants;
  • Fajã de Baixo - one of the peripheral suburbs of the city of Ponta Delgada, it is highly concentrated, dense parish with 1,124.2 inhabitants/km²;
  • Fajã de Cima - the northern limits of the city of Ponta Delgada, with a large residential population of 3634 inhabitants (2001);
  • Fenais da Luz - the community is primarily located along a plain of productive farmland, its population less than 2000 residents (2001);
  • Feteiras - a southern coastal community primarily concentrated on farming, with a population of 1709 inhabitants (2001);
  • Ginetes - an agricultural and fishing community in the western part of the municipality, there were 1267 residents living in this parish in 2001;
  • Livramento - also referred to as Rosto do Cão, it is a contiuation of the urbanized area of Ponta Delgada, and home to less than 3500 residents;
  • Mosteiros - known for the islets, and hydro-thermal vents off-shore, this is the western most parish of 1196 inhabitants;
  • Pilar da Bretanha - de-annexed in 2002 from the parish of Bretanha, this parish includes 750 residents dispersed in the foothills of the Sete Cidades Massif;
  • Relva - known as the location of the international airport, Relva is an important suburb and industrial center, with 2703 residents in 2001;
  • Remédios - nestled between Bretanha and Santa Bárbara, along the northern coast, it is an area of dairy farming, with 997 inhabitants;
  • Santa Bárbara - a parish with less than 100 inhabitants, between Santo António and Remedios, concentrated on agriculture;
  • Santa Clara - an industrial center in the city of Ponta Delgada, known for its football club, as the center of the commercial fishery and manufacturing, as well as the island's fuel deposit;
  • Santo António - another agricultural community along the northern coast, whose population in 2001 was more than 2000 inhabitants;
  • São José (Ponta Delgada) - one of the traditional centers of the urbanized core of Ponta Delgada, that includes many of the historical buildings, including Campo de São Francisco, Church of São José and the sanctuary of the Convent of Esperança (location of the devotional image of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres, used in annual celebrations around Easter);
  • São Pedro (Ponta Delgada) - a central parish in the city of Ponta Delgada, home to the University of the Azores, the Marina, hotels and commercial businesses, and many blocks of apartments along Avenida D. João III and Avenida Natalia Correia;
  • São Roque - also part of the Rosto do Cão area, it encompasses Ponta Delgada's primary beaches (Praia das Malícias and Praia do Pópulo), seaside avenues, as well as the city's municipal stadium and industrial park (Azores Parque);
  • São Sebastião (Ponta Delgada) - the central baixa of the city, includes all the historical buildings, traditional commercial business, and tourist attractions, including the Municipal buildings, Portas da Cidade, Matriz Church, Hospital do Divino Espirito Santo and Courts;
  • São Vicente Ferreira - consists of primarily agricultural tracts along the northern coast and population of 1664 inhabitants (2001);
  • Sete Cidades - located within the crater of the Sete Cidades Massif, the parish is bordered by twin lakes, and considered an ex-libris of the island of São Miguel.
Along the southern coast is the urbanized core of the historic village/town Ponta Delgada, which includes the principal civic infrastructures, high-capacity motorways (Portuguese: Vias-rápdias), tourist and culture attractions, as well as the businesses and government services.

City of Ponta Delgada


Twin towns — Sister cities

Ponta Delgada is twinned with:


A view of the commercial-industrial centre of Ponta Delgada from a B737 departing John Paul II International Airport

SATA Air Açores headquarters
Served by an international airport in the parish of Relva (Ponta Delgada-João Paulo II International Airport), the municipality is the principal port of entry for goods entering and people arriving in the Azores.[10] SATA International and SATA Air Açores have their head offices in Ponta Delgada.[11][12] It is also the primary location of the services provided by the government, with many of the ministries located in this municipal seat, including the Regional Presidency and several secretariats.[10] In actuality, the municipality of Ponta Delgada presents a glimpse of the divergent economic events that exist in the Azores. With a strong concentration of service activities, the municipality is an important industrial and agricultural centre.[10] The Arrifes-Covoada basin is the main bread-basket on the island of São Miguel, in addition to all the parishes located around the rim of the Sete Cidades Massif.[10] In 1999, there were 1039 companies whose operational seat were in Ponta Delgada, 45.4% of the companies of the Azores.[10] Of this companies, 4.4% were in the primary sector, 13.7% in secondary industries and 81.9% in the tertiary service sector.[10] The volume of sales (in 2000) was equivalent to 1,458 million Euros.[10] This value strongly lean to those service industries that have concentrated their sales volumes in the region, including banking, computer programming/services, corporate and commercial services and tourism.[10]
In tourism, Ponta Delgada accounted for a 34% the hotel spaces in the region, and 46% of overnight trips (1997).[10]
Several newspapers are published in Ponta Delgada, including Acoriano Oriental (one of the oldest continuing daily newspapers in the country) and the Diario dos Acores.
Near the harbour of Ponta Delgada a broad gauge railway was used several times to build and enlarge the harbor. The track used a seven-foot gauge, but it is unclear if this was Isambard Kingdom Brunel's 7 ft 14 in (2,140 mm) Brunel gauge, or an exact 7-foot (2,134 mm) gauge.[13][14][15]


Our Lord Saint Christ of the Miracles procession attract thousands of pilgrims

The front façade of the Church of São José with a portion of Campo de São Francisco to the front
Apart from major secular festivals, like the Festival of Our Lord Saint Christ of the Miracles (Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres), the municipality holds a summer program of socio-cultural events in the Campo do São Francisco (located in front of the Fort of São Brás). The Noites de Verão (Nights of Summer) is a gathering place for family, friends and tourists, with many vendors selling food, refreshments or small goods.[16] In addition, this secular festival is highlighted by nightly musical events, from popular Azorean bands/singers, folklore groups and some national/international stars.[16][17] Starting usually in late June, the "nights" run until September (four months), and is sponsored/supported by the municipal government.[16]

Notable natives

  • Antero de Quental (18 April 1842 - 11 September 1891), a Portuguese poet, philosopher and writer, whose works became a milestone in the Portuguese language, through his leadership in the Questão Coimbra movement of the 19th century;[18]
  • Teófilo Braga (24 February 1843; São José - 28 January 1924; Lisbon), a Portuguese writer, playwright, Republican politician, leader of the Republican Provisional Government, and 2nd President of the Republic;
  • Roberto Ivens (12 June 1850; São Pedro - 28 January 1898; Oeiras), a Portuguese explorer of Africa, geographer, colonial administrator, and an officer of the Portuguese Navy;
  • Pedro Miguel Carreiro Resendes, OIH (born 28 April 1973), commonly known as Pauleta, a footballer and all-time leading goal scorer for the Portuguese National Team;
  • Fernance B. Perry (born in 1922; Ponta Delgada), a successful business entrepreneur, philanthropist and broadcast executive, recipient of the Order of the British Empire, who emigrated to Bermuda with his parents in 1926.

See also



  1. ^ António Cordeiro, 1866, 182-183
  2. ^ "Normais Climatológicas - 1981-2010 (provisórias) - Ponta Delgada" (in Portuguese). Instituto de Meteorologia. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
  3. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Ponta Delgade". Retrieved March 18, 2013.
  4. ^ "Ponta Delgata". WMO-No. 847: Climatological Normals (CLINO) For The Period 1961-1990. NOAA.
  5. ^ Marina of Pêro de Teive
  6. ^ SATA Air Azores
  7. ^ Universidade dos Açores
  8. ^ Clube Desportivo Santa Clara
  9. ^ Clube União Micaelense
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i Câmara Municipal, ed. (2002). "Economia" (in Portuguese). São Sebastião (Ponta Delgada), Portugal: Câmara Municipal de Ponta Delgada. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  11. ^ "Customer Care." SATA. Retrieved on 7 July 2010.
  12. ^ "Press Kit 2010." SATA. Retrieved on 7 July 2010. "The SATA Group comprises air transport companies whose decision centre is located in the city of Ponta Delgada, on the island of São Miguel, in the archipelago of Azores."
  13. ^ Brady, Chris (30 March 2010). "The Broad Gauge Railway of the Azores". Retrieved 03 May 2011. "Many harbour breakwaters were built using seven foot gauge railways. ... [The locomotives] were disposed of to places as diverse as Brixham and the Azores."
  14. ^ Kers, Ernst. "Açores: Broad gauge harbor line". Retrieved 03 May 2011. "At Ponta Delgada they discovered rails and wagons on the jetty (molhe). After disembarking Stöckl did measure the gauge himself: 7 foot / 2134 mm! The gauge which was favoured by Brunel in the 19th century in England ..."
  15. ^ Churcher, Colin. "Broad Gauge Railway Relics in the Açores". Retrieved 03 May 2011. "The story of the railway in Ponta Delgada, ... begins in Holyhead on the island of Anglesea in North Wales. ... the broad gauge of 7 feet 0¼ inches ... was that chosen by Isambard kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Railway."
  16. ^ a b c Câmara Municipal, ed. (15 June 2011). ""Noites de Verão" Começam Sexta-feira no Campo de São Francisco"" (in Portuguese). São Sebastião (Ponta Delgada), Portugal: Câmara Municipal de Ponta Delgada. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  17. ^ AO, ed. (9 June 2011). "Programa das Noites de Verão prevê 61 espectáculos até Setembro" (in Portuguese). Ponta Delgada, Portugal: Açoreana Oriental. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  18. ^ Martins, Ana Maria Almeida (2006). "Figuras da Cultura Portuguesa: Antero do Quental" [Figures in Portuguese Culture: Antero de Quental] (in Portuguese). Lisbon, Portugal: Instituto Camões. Retrieved 17 July 2010.


  • Booth, B.; Croasdale, R., and G. Walker (1978). A quantitative study of five thousand years of volcanism on S. Miguel, Azores. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 228. pp. 271–319.
  • Fructuoso, G. (1966). Saudades da Terra (Vol.1-6), 1873 (in Portuguese). Instituto Cultural de Ponta Delgada, Ponta Delgada.
  • Queiroz, G. (1997). A Vulcão das Sete Cidades (S. Miguel, Açores): História eruptiva e avaliação do Hazard. Tese de doutoramento no ramo de Geologia, especialidade de Vulcanologia. (in Portuguese). Universidade dos Açores, Departamento Geociências. p. 226.
  • Queiroz, G.; Pacheco, J.M., Gaspar, J.L., Aspinall, W., Guest, J.E., and T. Ferreira (1978). The last 5000 years of activity at Sete Cidades volcano (S. Miguel Island, Azores): implications for hazard assessment. The Journal of Vulcanology and Geothermal Research. pp. 562–573.
  • Cordeiro, António (1866). Historia Insulana das Ilhas a Portugal Sugeitas no Oceano Occidental (in Portuguese) 1. Lisbon: Typ. do Panorama.

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