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All About Portugal | March 7, 2021

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Sao Jorge Island history

Sao Jorge Island
Clara Campos

Sao Jorge Island’s development started with agriculture but recently tourism is also boosting the economy of the Island, which settlement began around 1460.

Sao Jorge Island history goes back to the 14th century when the Azores archipelago was discovered. However, the settlement of the island began around 1460. It is believed that the first settlers came to the Velas bay. Another group of settlers came to Calheta. As in the other islands, settlement went from litoral towards inland. Topo was the third main settlement to be established. By the second half of the 16th century there were 3000 inhabitants on the island.

The development of Sao Jorge Island

As in many other islands of the Azores, the development of Sao Jorge Island was based on agriculture. The growing of corn, yam and vine were fundamental for the economic growth of the island.

The production of the famed Sao Jorge cheese goes back to this period.
Throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, Sao Jorge Island was attacked several times by pirates and corsairs. These attacks were repelled by the population and the pirates never stayed for long on the Island.
Sao Jorge CheesePhoto by Galeria de Ponto e virgula

During the Spanish occupation, the Island lost importance and become isolated.

The most significant event of the 18th century was the 1757 earthquake. It destroyed the majority of the Island’s houses and caused around 1000 death.

As it happened on the other Azorean islands, during the 19th century, the vineyards of Sao Jorge Island were attacked by phylloxera. Fortunately, the plantation of oranges grew in importance and brought some prosperity to the Island.

Nevertheless, Sao Jorge Island isolation was only minimized by the early years of the 20th century with the construction of its two main harbors, one at Velas and the other at Calheta. The aerodrome of Sao Jorge, concluded in 1982, also contributed for the Island’s development. This time, the economy is based on the natural resources of the Island, cattle-raising, fishing and tourism.

Tourists love the natural wonders of Sao Jorge Island, the local hospitality as well as its gastronomy. And when it comes to the Island’s gastronomy Sao Jorge cheese is still number one. The quality of the hotels and restaurants of Sao Jorge Island also charm visitors.

Where is Sao Jorge

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Sao Jorge Island: 38.640968, -28.030319

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