Pico island Azores
is named after its imposing mountain Ponta
de Pico (Pico Alto), which is the highest mountain of Portugal
and also the highest elevation of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Pico
with its 300,000 years the “youngest” island of the Azores. The
island is situated 17 km south of São Jorge and just 6 km west
of Faial. If you want, you can stay at the island of Faial and
have easy access to Pico. The ferry from Horta to Madalena only
takes about ½ hour. There are departures all day long.
Pico is 42 km long, has a maximum width of 15 km (area of
447 km²), making it the second largest island of the Azores. The main
settlements are the capital Madalena, São Roque do Pico and Lajes
do Pico, the total population is around 15,000.
volcano is in the south-west of the island, being a basaltic
stratocone of 2,350 m high with steep sides. The last eruption
was in 1963 (prior major eruptions were around 1562 and 1718).
The paths of the lava flows are still visible, those from previous
eruptions were particularly substantial, extending for over
The island supported a substantial whaling industry
until 1980. The position of the island on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge
means that deep water is very close. Nowadays, whale hunting
is replaced by study, observation and whalewatch trips.
Other active industries include tourism, ship-building
and wine production (Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture
has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004). It has a
notable wine, the Pico Wine (Vinho do Pico).
The stange rock formations, the black lava (Pico is also
called Ilha Negro, meaning black island), the vineyards which are
vey distinctive, the meadows and forests, the old natural stone
houses and the whales and dolphins make Pico a special island which
you certainly want to visit.
Villages and Culture
- Lajes do Pico: the whale hunting
dos Baleeiros, Igreja Matriz da Santissima Trindade, de Nossa
Senhora da Conceicao, Forte de Santa Catarina
- Madalena: Igreja
Matriz de Santa Maria Madalena, the Marina, the city hall,
Museu do Vinho
- São Roque do Pico: Museu
da Industria Baleeira, Convento de Sao Pedro de Alcantara,
Igreja de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, greja Matriz de Sao Roque
has long been the boat-building center of the Azores: fishing
boats, whaleboats (canoas), dories, launches andeven
model boats have been built here. In the small north-coast
town of Santa Amaro this custom continues and boats
are still being build here using traditional methods.
- The majestic mountain in Pico, classified in 1972 as Natural
Reserve, is a prominent element in the island’s landscape.
You can drive up until about 1200
meters above sea level and enjoy the magnificent view
(you can easily see as long as Faial and São Jorge). From
here it is about 1.000 meters to the very top of Pico.
If you decide to climb to the very top, you must be very
experienced and in a good physical condition. The weather changes
rapidly, and you can easily put yourself into severe problems.
- The Capitão Caiado, and Paúl
among many others, set within a natural and entrancing environment in
the central plateau area which stretches to the eastern
tip of the island. They are surrounded by the original vegetation
of the island cedars, laurels and the tree called vinhatico.
- Misterios - Lava beds originating
in eruptions have locally been given the name of misterios (mysteries).
They are spread all over the island. The Mistério da
Prainha, between São Roque and Prainha, Mistério
das Bandeiras, between Santa Luzia and Bandeiras, on
the north coast and the Mistério de São João, on
the south coast, are the most spectacular.
- Arcos do Cachorro - an
impressive lava flow
- The lava caves of the Frei Matias Silveira and Montanheiros
Souto: Forested park