Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pico Island in Azores, Portugal

While searching for a place for holidays I discovered Pico Island in Panoramio and I was completely amazed by the place. Pico Island or Ilha do Pico is an island of the Azores (Portugal) archipelago (pico means peak in Portuguese). Take a look here if you wonder about the name. Ponta de Pico (Pico Alto) is the highest mountain of Portugal. The Azores are actually the tops of some of the tallest mountains on the planet, as measured from their base at the bottom of the ocean.

The island is 42 km long and has a maximum width of 15 km and an area of 447 km², making it the second largest of the Azores islands. The main settlements are the capital Madalena, São Roque do Pico and Lajes do Pico, the total population is around 15,000 innhabitants. Tourism is the main industry in Pico Island, but it doesn't seem very crowded.

The volcano is a basaltic stratovolcano with steep sides. The last eruption on the island was in 1963 and the paths of the lava flows are still visible. You can climb up to the top of Ponta do Pico in few hours if you are in good shape.

The island has a notable wine, the Pico Wine (Vinho do Pico) and the landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004. The vineyards surrounded by small walls made of volcanic black stones make this wine very special. The island is plenty of old Adegas (Wine cellars) that are nowadays available for renting. Adegas are built with the same kind of black stones in very nice style. Everything is black and green at this island. The beaches are rocky, but still there are some nice places for swimming. Since Pico island in the route of whales migrations, whale watching tours are also very popular.

My favourite shots from Panoramio: top of the volcano, the exuberant vegetation and the vineyard landscape. More information in Wikipedia.