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What you need to know about Angra do Heroísmo

Angra do Heroísmo, generally known as Angra, is a municipality and city on the island of Terceira in the Portuguese autonomous region of the Azores. The population in 2011 was 35,402, in an area of 239.00 km².It forms the southern half of Terceira, with the north belonging to Praia da Vitória. Together with Ponta Delgada on São Miguel and Horta on Faial, Angra is one of the three regional capitals of the Azores. Each capital is responsible for one of the three branches of government. It is also the location of the Azorean bishop. The town was established in the latter half of the 15th century. Angra served as a place of exile for Almeida Garrett during the Napoleonic Wars. It also served as a refuge for Queen Maria II of Portugal from 1830 to 1833. It was classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1983.

 

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Climate

The climate of Angra do Heroísmo is borderline mediterranean (Csa) and humid subtropical (Cfa), with the August daily mean being just above the 22 °C (72 °F) isotherm and the July rainfall just below the 30 mm isotherm for the oceanic climate (Cfb) regime. It is also significantly tempered by the Gulf Stream and the warm North Atlantic waters surrounding the Azores, with extremely mild winter temperatures for a place so far from the equator. It is one of the outermost locations from the equator never to have recorded air frost. By contrast, temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) have never been recorded, with summer days reliably staying around 24 °C (75 °F) to 25 °C (77 °F).

 

Culture

A scene from the traditional touradas à corda, where people and bulls play cat-and-mouse in the streets of parishes of the municipality The Portuguese version of bullfighting differs considerably from its Spanish counterpart, and the Azorean variety, which began on Terceira, differs from the mainland style in some important respects also. The Azorean bullfight ritual involves “audience participation” in a way that recalls the “running of the bulls” at Pamplona (Spain). On Terceira, 4 fighting bulls are enclosed in separate wooden crate for several hours and transported to the village where the bullfight will happen, then a long stout rope is secured around his neck. Fireworks are exploded to signal the citizens that a bull will soon be let loose in the public square. Once the bull is released, some young men take hold of the rope to try to control the bull’s head, and others taunt the bull with everything from brightly colored fighting capes to parasols. A free-for-all ensues while the bull drags some men around by the rope and tries to punish his tormenters, by butting them to the ground and goring them (with blunted horns), or by trampling over them. This is a popular leisure activity and public entertainment; it is known as the tourada à corda (English: bullfight-on-a-rope).

 

Religious

At one stage, Angra had as many as nine convents, each with its own cloisters and churches. Most of these churches are from the Mannerist and Baroque periods, and they are remarkably grand if we bear in mind the poor quality of the stone to be found on the island. The interior decoration of these churches relied on the use of both traditional carved and gilded woodwork and the rich and exotic woods of Brazil.