Chief city of the Island of Terceira
Central Zone of the Town of Angra do Heroismo in the Azores
Defensive and commercial
Location and site
Angra do Heroísmo, situated in the middle of the Azores archipelago in the heart of the Atlantic, is protected from prevailing winds by a series of hills. Opening on to two natural bays of the Island of Terceira, it was on the transoceanic sailing route.
The layout of the principal streets leading to the port dates to the 16th century, around the time when Angra do Heroísmo was founded. The rectilinear plan is unique in its ability to adapt, through the reorientation of streets, to the direction of the prevailing winds.
The small city has the appearance of a Portuguese trading post. Two forts, San Sebastiao (end of 16th century) and São João Baptista (16th-17th centuries), frame its port zone. Numerous monuments (churches and convents) of Baroque inspiration, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, make up a dense urban fabric. Two-storey dwellings with painted wood balconies exemplify Brazil’s Portuguese architectural heritage.
Criterion (iv): Set in the mid-Atlantic, the port of Angra, obligatory port-of-call for fleets from Africa and the Indies, is an outstanding example of a creation linked to the maritime world, within the framework of the great explorations;
Criterion (vi): Like the Tower of Belem, the Convent of the Hieronymites of Lisbon, and Goa, Angra do Heroísmo is directly and tangibly associated with an event of a universal historic significance: the maritime exploration which permitted exchanges between the great civilizations of the Earth.
- The discovery of the Azores, like that of Madeira and Cape Verde Islands, took place under the Aviz Dynasty of Portugal during the great maritime expeditions led by Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460).
- In the 15th century, the Kingdom of Portugal rerouted the gold trade, which had followed the caravan routes of the Sahara, to the Atlantic Ocean. Early in the next century, the Asiatic ports of Goa and Melaka were taken over by the Portuguese in 1510 and 1511 respectively.
- From the time of its foundation, the double port of Angra do Heroísmo was fortified. During the period of intercontinental European expansion and emigration to the New World, its oceanic port possessed major strategic importance. Brazil was discovered in 1500.
- In 1534, Angra do Heroísmo attained the status of a city and was named the Episcopal Seat of the Azores.
- After advances in navigation about two centuries ago led to the loss of Angra do Heroísmo’s role as a port of call, its urban landscape ceased to evolve.