Central Zone of the Town of Angra do Heroismo
in the Azores (1983)

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Situated on one of the islands in the Azores archipelago, this was an obligatory port of call from the 15th century until the advent of the steamship in the 19th century. The 400-year-old San Sebastião and San João Baptista fortifications are unique examples of military architecture. Damaged by an earthquake in 1980, Angra is now being restored. 

Portugal (Azores) 2001. World Cultural Heritage. Souvenir sheet Angra do Heroismo.

Until the fifteenth century, it was the inward-looking Mediterranean sea that was used for trade between the peoples of Europe and the Levant. Beyond this space was an enormous expanse of sea that still remained to be discovered, its full extent unclear and perhaps inhabited by terrible and mythical creatures.

Situated at the furthest extremes of the European continent and bordered to the west and south by the unknown Atlantic, Portugal and the Portuguese were inevitably the first to venture forth upon the ocean. Their first voyages took them along the west coast of Africa, allowing them to perfect their navigation techniques, which until them had been limited to Mediterranean conditions, to learn more about the winds and set off in other directions. 
Portugal (Azores) 2001. Panoramic view of Angra do Heroismo. Stamp #1 of four. Portugal (Azores) 2001. Panoramic view of Angra do Heroismo. Stamp #2 of four.

In 1427, at a distance of roughly 1500 km from the European continent, the first Portuguese caravels discovered the archipelago of the Azores, which was soon to play such an important role as a commercial port and cultural bridge between the Old and the New Worlds. And, in this group of nine islands, Angra do Heroísmo, the port on the island of Terceira, came to be of such major strategic significance in the context of the great maritime discoveries that in I983 the central area of the city was quite justly added to UNESCO's list of world heritage sites. 

In the fifteenth century it was certainly not very easy or comfortable to sail across the ocean between Lisbon and the Azores in those small caravels, but nowadays all that it takes is a two-hour plane trip. 

Portugal (Azores) 2001. Panoramic view of Angra do Heroismo. Stamp #3 of four. Portugal (Azores) 2001. Panoramic view of Angra do Heroismo. Stamp #4 of four.

No visitor can come to Angra without also leaving the city to travel around this small island and revel in its green bucolic landscape, interrupted here and there by small lagoons, and full of panoramic views over broad horizons, as well as caves and natural swimming-pools. As in the rest of the Azorean islands, it is still possible here to appreciate and experience the long-lost harmony between man and nature. 

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Other World Heritage Sites in Portugal and Areas (on this website). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Portugal-section, for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 21 jul 2006  
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