"Vila Franca do Campo" Vila Franca do Campo by mircaskirca
Vila Franca do Campo Travel Guide: 5 reviews and 47 photos
Located on a fertile plain (campo) of the south coast, Vila Franca do Campo was the first capital of the Azores until it was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1522. Today it is a prosperous town with economy based on fishing, cattle raising and agriculture, with a concentration on pineapple cultivation. There is a small port with brightly painted fishing boats and you find some good fish restaurants. Vila Franca do Campo is also famous for its delicious local cakes called Queijadas da Vila Franca do Campo.
It is one of the main tourist centres of the Azores with many historical buildings. The churches deserve a special mentioning, in particular Igreja Matriz de São Miguel Arcanjo. Completed in 1537, this three naved church boasts an impressive façade built completely of basalt, with carving of Christ on the cross. It has a beautiful Gothic portal and an an interior rich in Gothic arches carved with plant motifs.
Other interesting churches are Igreja de São Pedro, dating from the 18th century and built over a Gothic chapel, featuring a remarkable Baroque façade and gilded wood carvings in the interior, and the Igreja de Santo André, a structure from the 16th and 17th centuries showing a mixture of Baroque and neo-classic style, with two naves, a carved wood high altar, panelled ceilings and walls decorated with azulejos. On the edge of the town by a pretty little public garden is the old Igreja e Convento de São Francisco, dating from 1525.
Worth visiting is the ethnographic museum, which houses, among other things, a nice collection of pottery and ceramics. And if you have time, well worth visiting is Ermida de NS da Paz. It can be seen from Vila Franca high on the hillside behind the town and can be reached by a monumental staircase. From there is a splendid panorama of Vila Franca and the green landscape down to the coast, including the marvellous tiny islet Ilhéu.
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