Leaving Ponta Delgada in the direction of the city of Ribeira Grande you will traverse eighteen kilometres and cross from the southern side of the island to the northern coast.
On this beautiful drive you will see the base of the “Serra of Água de Pau” mountain range majestically crowned by the “Pico da Barrosa”.
Ribeira Grande received its name from the large river flowing from “Lagoa do Fogo” (Fire Lake) that crosses the city on its path to the Atlantic Ocean.
A walking tour through the city offers tourist the opportunity to observe the architecture of many of the older buildings including;
- The churches, “Nossa Senhora da Estrela”, “Espirito Santo” (Holy Spirit), “Nossa Senhora da Conceição” (Our Lady of Conception), and “Igreja e Convento de São Francisco” (Church and Convent of Saint Francis), are the principal locations for the religious gatherings of the people of Ribeira Grande;
- Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Estrela - A glass showcase with very small figurines molded by Sister Clarissa Margarida from bread dough, arabic paste and alumen, representing the new and the old testament is found here and is definitely worth a visit.
O Fontenário (the Fountain) - The remains of a 16th century fountain visible below ground level and one of the few remains of the town destroyed by the volcanic eruption in 1563.
- The City Hall and the Ethnographic Museum, which houses traditional works in stone (basalt), are typical examples of Azorean architecture from the 16th and 17th centuries;
- Various chapels dedicated to saints are valuable and picturesque examples of the popular baroque architecture. In addition, the older manors found here and in the surrounding villages are noteworthy.
A short distance from Ribeira Grande is the “Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande”, an area where bubbling hot springs are found encompassed by a lush grove of trees. A little further along is the valley of “Lombadas”, which is the site of the naturally carbonated spring that provides the famous and refreshing mineral water known as “Agua das Lombadas”. The whole valley is covered by luxuriant vegetation.
The next required stop is a visit to the incredible “Lagoa do Fogo” (Fire Lake). The lake filling this ancient crater contrasts with the breathtaking mountain range. The hiker may reach the lake along well travelled paths. This the principal crater of “Serra de Água de Pau”, “Lagoa do Fogo” and the surrounding area contain vegetation of great botanical value and have therefore received the designation of Natural Reserve in 1974.