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Fajã Grande

Welcome to Fajã Grande (Flores Island - Azores)

Fajã Grande is a rural civil parish in the municipality of Lajes das Flores in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores. The population in 2011 was 202, in an area of 12.97 km². Although it is a relatively small population, it is one of the largest centers in the municipality of Lajes das Flores, about 17 kilometres from the municipal seat, and the westernmost settlement in Europe.

The village is located in an extensive fajã (a small area of flat fertile land at the bottom of a seaside cliff composed of volcanic and geomorphological debris) on the western coast and delimited by the Rocha da Fajã escarpment (that extends from the northwest to southeast border) and the Ribeira Grande river along the south. The escarpment is an almost sheer cliff face, approximately 600 meters in some places. The rest of Fajã Grande is formed from erosional forces along the Rocha da Fajã, producing a rich soil, although rocky, that is nutrient-rich due to the abundance of water from river tributaries. The escarpment is also a protective feature, permitting the cultivation of orchards and small parcels, and yams in the well-irrigated parcels along the river. Above the Rocha, about 550 metres, the parish extends onto an irregular plateau covered in natural vegetation and peat. The excessive precipitation in this region, which usually exceeds 4,000 millimetres annually, means that the river-valleys are always flooded or inundated. The northwest border extends along the western coast of the parish on a strip of land adjacent to the escarpment.

Situated on the plateau are four large crater lakes, Lagoa da Caldeira Funda (Lake of the Deep Crater), Lagoa da Caldeira Comprida (Lake of the Long Crater) and Lagoa da Caldeira Branca (Lake of the White Crater) which are full throughout the year, and the peat-covered Lagoa da Caldeira Seca (Lake of the Dry Crater) which only occasionally becomes flooded. The Lagoa dos Patos (Lake of the Ducks) is located at the base of the plateau.

Off the western coast, the Monchique Islet, is the westernmost point of the Azores (and Europe).

The escarpment surrounds the community composed of three nuclei: Fajã Grande (the largest population), Ponta da Fajã Grande (a narrow strip between the coast and Rocha da Fajã), and Cuada (a settlement located on a plateau bordering the parish of Fajãzinha to the south). Cuada, for many years, was a collection of uninhabited homes, but today it has been rejuvenated by rural tourism, and classified as an Area of Municipal Interest.

Fajã Grande had always been characterized by its land and connection to the sea, resulting in a considerable part of its population employed in the primary industries (about 50%), that included agriculture, livestock husbandry and fishing. Over time, secondary industries began to occupy a greater part of the local activities (but generally hovered around 20% of activities), and primarily tourism, commerce and complimentary services.

What to see in Fajã Grande

Waterfalls Poço Ribeira do Ferreiro (Alagoinha)

Waterfall Poço do Bacalhau

Fajã Grande Mills: On the way to the Poço do Bacalhau, several mills can be seen which although not restored, allow the importance of this stretch of water to the Civil Parish to be appreciated.

Bathing Area

Natural Swimming Pool

Whale Watcher

Museum Casa Museu Fajã Grande

Standpipes played a highly important role in the daily life of the people before there was running water, and currently represent a historical and architectural milestone. Some have been restored and others recovered, and they may be found scattered throughout the civil parish, each exhibiting distinctive and striking features.

Religious

Chapel of Santo António, on a path within the locality of Cuada;

Church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo (Portuguese: Ermida da Ponta da Fajã/Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo), erected in 1898, in the locality of Ponta da Fajã, consisting of a single nave building with belltower;

Church of São José (Portuguese: Igreja Paroquial de Fajã Grande/Igreja de São José), constructed in 1868, it was based on a primitive chapel dedicated to Saint Joseph, which was originally built in 1755. The church is distinguished for two altars in the arch separating the chamber and chancel.

Império of Cuada (Portuguese: Casa do Espírito Santo da Cuada), dated from 1841, a treatro involved in the festivals of Pentecost.

Feasts

As in the rest at the Azorean archipelago, the Municipality of Lajes das Flores has a strong connection to the cult of the Holy Spirit. Over seven weeks after Pentecost, dawn ceremonies are held where, across the different chapels called "lmpérios”, groups revellers sing songs in honour of the Holy Spirit and at weekends the imposing flags and crowns or the Holy Spirit are carried in procession, always in the company of revellers, from their “Impérios” to the church.
Throughout the year, but especially in summer, the popular festivals in honour of the Patron Saints of the civil parishes are one of the main manifestations of popular culture in different locations, where gastronomy, traditions and customs are made known to all those who visit.
Every year, over the third weekend in July, tor four days the Feast of Emigrant is held, the biggest festivity in the municipality, and a way to pay tribute to all those who emigrated.

Feasts in Ponta da Fajã and Fajã Grande

July, 1st weekend: Ponta da Fajã - Nossa Senhora do Carmo

September, 1st weekend: Fajã Grande - Nossa Senhora da Saúde

October, 3rd weekend: Fajã Grande - Nossa Senhora do Rosário

Pictures from Julio Boim Esteves (flickr)

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Living in Flores- Azores is a registered trademark of Julio Boim Esteves [JTJS - Consultoria e Serviços, Unipessoal Lda].