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All About Portugal | March 7, 2021

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Terceira Island’s history

Terceira Island
Clara Campos

Terceira Island was first named as Island of Jesus Christ. However as it was the third Azorean Island to be discovered it took the name Terceira (The third)

Terceira Island is known as the “Lilac” Island.
Characterized for its curious elliptic shape, Terceira Island was first named as the island of Jesus Christ. However, as this Island was the third one to be discovered, it was commonly referred to as Terceira (“the third”).
Its Administrative seat is Angra do Heroísmo, declared World Patrimony in 1986 by UNESCO.

Terceira Island’s throughout the centuries

Terceira Island’s settlement began around 1450 under the captaincy of the Flaming Jácome de Bruges. The first settlements were established on Porto Judeu and Praia da Vitória areas. Only then other parts of the island were explored.
Agriculture boosted Terceira Island’s economy. The production of grains and the export of woad, a dye-yielding plant, were the main activities. The dye-yielding plants were also very important in Sao Miguel.

Spicies Terceira IslandPhoto by Galeria de sandyhodges

During the Discovery Age, between the 15th and the 16th centuries, Terceira Island worked as a port of call both for the galleons navigating from the Americas and India. Thus Terceira Island was a natural warehouse for gold, silver, diamonds and spices. This fact awoke the greed of English, Flemish and French pirates who attacked the Island innumerous times throughout the centuries.

Terceira stood by the Portuguese claims when the Spaniards came to the throne in 1580. Dom António, Crato’s Prior, the Portuguese pretender came to live on the Island. Therefore, the Spanish attacked Terceira Island several times. After having been defeated in 1581, in the “Salga” battle, the Spanish finally conquered the Island two years later. After the Restoration in 1640, Terceira recovered its position as one of the most important Portuguese ports.

Terceira Island was on the center of the struggles between the liberals and the absolutists during the 19th century. The Island supported the liberal cause right from the beginning. Therefore, it became their main base. It was from there that the liberal forces left to conquer Continental Portugal.

The importance of Terceira Island decreased progressively by the end of the 19th century. However its strategic geographical position led to the establishment of the American air base at Lajes.

Where is Terceira Island?

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Terceira Island: 38.721641, -27.220577

Main image credits

Photo by Galeria de pietroizzo

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