The lovely Santa Cruz da Graciosa village genuinely shows off the “graciously” of this Graciosa Island, filled with beauty and charm.
Located on the northeast side of the Gracious Island, Santa Cruz was the first locality of the Island, colonized in the 1470’s, on the area around the lovely Nossa Senhora da Ajuda Mount with an excellent location for the coast observation, sheltered from strong winds, and with an great access to the ocean, as well as the proximity to fertile soils. Santa Cruz soon developed and gave the favourable conditions for the colonization of the entire Island.
Santa Cruz da Graciosa has been able to maintain throughout the centuries its rural ambiance, famous for its wine production that took place in the Island starting as from the 17th century, on the good use of the volcanic soils, and high humidity that confers the greenish landscapes of these gracious landscapes. The vineyard plantations and the wine production provided the biggest development in the Island, still visible in the opulence of some buildings.
It is worth walking around the lovely historical centre, classified as a set of public interest, with charming picturesque streets and houses, and charming monuments such as the beautiful 16th century Mother Church, with several Manueline elements; the elegant Santo Cristo da Misericórdia Church (16th century); the several Forts and fortifications throughout the coast, built as from the 17th century, in order to protect the Island from Pirates and Privateers attacks and pillages; the Nossa Senhora dos Anjos Church’s Tower, the remaining part of a convent set destroyed in the 20th century; the Nossa Senhora da Ajuda, São João and São Salvador Chapels, located on the wonderful Ajuda Mount; the several Manor Houses that show off the importance of the agricultural development on the Island; or even the interesting Graciosa Museum, that refers to the history and ethnography of this charming Island, focusing on the wine and whale traditions of Graciosa.