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Discover the Fascinating History of São Miguel Island

CEO Khai Intela
A Journey Through Time São Miguel, the largest island in the Azores archipelago, holds a captivating history that dates back centuries. From its discovery by the Portuguese to its role as a thriving trade center,...

A Journey Through Time

São Miguel, the largest island in the Azores archipelago, holds a captivating history that dates back centuries. From its discovery by the Portuguese to its role as a thriving trade center, São Miguel has witnessed the ebb and flow of civilizations.

São-Miguel-Azores-Real-Estate Picture: São Miguel Azores Real Estate

Discovery of São Miguel Island

The story of São Miguel begins with its discovery by the intrepid explorer, Gonçalo Velho Cabral. While the exact date remains uncertain, it is believed that São Miguel was stumbled upon between 1426 and 1437. The first settlers were captivated by the island's breathtaking beauty, with its sun-kissed ravines and lush greenery.

An intriguing turn of events occurred when a volcanic eruption took place in the crater of Sete Cidades, an uninhabited area, between 1439 and 1444. This eruption left a lasting impact on the landscape of São Miguel.

São Miguel's Flourishing Golden Age

In the early 15th century, Infante D. Henrique authorized the settlement of the Azores, attracting settlers from continental Portugal to São Miguel. The island's temperate climate and fertile soils enticed not only Portuguese settlers but also immigrants from other countries, including the Flemish and the French. São Miguel became a melting pot of cultures, as exiles from the Inquisition, such as Jewish New Christians and Moors, found sanctuary on the island.

sao-miguel-azores-real-estate Picture: São Miguel Azores Real Estate

The island's economic growth skyrocketed, driven by the fertile soils that allowed for the cultivation of cash crops. São Miguel became a vital trading hub, especially in the African and Asian commercial trade routes. Commodity exports like sugar and orchil, a dye used in cloth production, thrived, cementing the stability of the island's economy.

Ponta Delgada, a city that emerged as a result of the devastation caused by the 1522 Vila Franca earthquake, became the new administrative and economic center in 1546. São Miguel island even played a crucial role in the Battle of Vila Franca during the 16th century Portuguese succession crisis.

A Renaissance in São Miguel

The Portuguese Restoration War in 1640 breathed new life into São Miguel island, solidifying its position as a prominent commercial and trade center. Contact with Brazil, a heavily colonized region during this era, further enriched São Miguel's economic landscape. Many of the island's historic buildings, including its magnificent churches, originated from this period.

The prosperity of São Miguel continued to bloom as the exportation of oranges to the United Kingdom became a significant source of revenue. The island's architectural advancements were made possible by these newfound economic opportunities.

Resilience and Progress

São Miguel island's resilience was showcased once again during the Liberal Wars. The island became a stronghold of resistance against the Absolutist regime, with its militia pledging allegiance to Queen Maria II. They played a pivotal role in liberating Porto, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to constitutional monarchy.

Following the Liberal Wars, São Miguel experienced a period of unprecedented growth. The port of Ponta Delgada expanded, facilitating the exportation of new crops such as pineapple, tea, and tobacco. The fishing and dairy industries flourished, and the island became self-sufficient in food production, leading to a rapid population increase.

The Carnation Revolution marked another turning point in São Miguel's history, as the island became the seat of the Presidency of the Autonomous Region of the Azores, solidifying its importance within the archipelago.

São Miguel Island is not only a stunning place to call home but also a testament to the resilience and cultural heritage of its people. Explore the beauty of island living and discover the stories that make this corner of the world truly unique.