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Civil parish (Freguesia)
Pico Matias Simão, Altares, Angra do Heroísmo, Ilha Terceira, Arquipélago dos Açores, Portugal.JPG
Pico Matias Simão an ancient volcanic spatter cone located near the coast of Altares
Coat of arms
Official name: Freguesia dos Altares
Name origin: Portuguese contraction of altos ares, meaning mountain breezes
Country  Portugal
Autonomous Region  Azores
Island Terceira
Municipality Angra do Heroísmo
Rivers Ribeira do Pamplona, Ribeira de Lapa, Ribeira da Luz, Ribeira de São Roque, Ribeira das Lajinhas, Ribeira dos Gatos
Center Altares
 - elevation 132 m (433 ft)
 - coordinates 38°47′27″N 27°17′57″W / 38.79083°N 27.29917°W / 38.79083; -27.29917Coordinates: 38°47′27″N 27°17′57″W / 38.79083°N 27.29917°W / 38.79083; -27.29917
Highest point Santa Bárbara
 - elevation 980 m (3,215 ft)
 - coordinates 38°44′29″N 27°18′52″W / 38.74139°N 27.31444°W / 38.74139; -27.31444
Lowest point Sea Level
 - location Atlantic Ocean
Area 28.22 km2 (11 sq mi)
 - water .01 km2 (0 sq mi)
 - urban .95 km2 (0 sq mi)
Population 901 (2011)
Density 32 / km2 (83 / sq mi)
Settlement c. 1480
LAU Junta Freguesia
 - location Rua Patim
 - coordinates 38°47′29″N 27°17′55″W / 38.79139°N 27.29861°W / 38.79139; -27.29861
President Junta Salvador da Rocha Lopes
President Assembleia Hermínia da Conceição Pires Lopes Ferreira
Timezone Azores (UTC-1)
 - summer (DST) Azores (UTC0)
Postal zone 9700-306
Area code & prefix (+351) 295 9XX XXX
Demonym Altarense
Patron saint São Roque
The civil parish (freguesia) within the municipality of Angra do Heroísmo (Azores), Portugal
Wikimedia Commons: Altares (Angra do Heroísmo)
Geographic detail from CAOP (2010)[1] produced by Instituto Geográfico Português (IGP)

Altares is a civil parish in the municipality of Angra do Heroísmo on the Portuguese island of Terceira in the archipelago of the Azores. The population in 2011 was 901,[2] in an area of 28.22 km².[3]


Situated on relatively flat land with fertile soils, although situated far from major population centres, the region of was settled early, sometime before the year 1480.[4] Owing to the clearing and logging that proceeded along the territory, and from the agrarian structure and morphology of the land, settlement must have progressed from east to west, until the parish of Raminho (which was the last to be settled).[4]

The word, "Altares", is a contraction of the words, Altos Ares, meaning "mountain breezes".


Seaside farms in Altares

The parish is located in the northwestern part of the island, about 19 kilometres from the city of Angra do Heroísmo. It is bounded on the east by the parish of Biscoitos, which belongs to the municipality of Praia da Vitória, on the west by the parish of Raminho, on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the south and southwest by the caldera of the Santa Bárbara volcano and by the parish also called Santa Bárbara.

Altares is located along the northern flanks of the Serra de Santa Bárbara massif, extending from the northern and western edges of the caldera of Santa Barbara volcano to the seaside cliffs on the north coast of the island. Topographically, the civil parish is bounded on the east by the course of the Ribeira do Pamplona (Pamplona Ravine), which also serves as the border to the municipality of Angra do Heroísmo, and on the west by a line drawn from the 827 metres (2,713 ft) summit of Pico Rachado to the sea. This line follows the course of the Ribeira dos Gatos (Ravine of the Cats), but then it diverts to the west to include the hamlet of Cerro da Ribeira dos Gatos, a ridge of hills and miscellaneous buildings.

The territory of the parish rises gradually from the coast, first as a relatively gentle slope, but at an increasingly rugged grade as one approaches the heights of the Serra de Santa Bárbara, where five streams have their sources: the Riberia dos Gatos, the Ribeira de São Roque, the Ribeira das Lajinhas, the Ribeira da Lapa, and the Ribeira do Pamplona. Although crossed by various river courses, the parish is actually poor in hydrographic resources, since surface water is intermittent. In fact, ravine water is primarily from intense precipitation in the foothills, lasting a short time normally.[5] This was not the case during the period of early colonization, since the forest and tuber vegetation would regulate waterflow, resulting in light continuously flowing streams throughout the year.[5] From east to west, the following ravines are the primarily affluent in the parish:

  • Ribeira do Pamplona, apart from delimiting the parish, it also the frontier of Angra do Heroísmo;
  • Ribeira de Lapa, one of the more intensely flowing watercourses;
  • Ribeira da Luz;
  • Ribeira de São Roque, alongside the parochial church (in the centre of the parish), and to its left the Ribeira das Lajinhas;
  • Ribeira dos Gatos


The single-nave parochial Church of São Roque dating to the 15th century
The Império of the Holy Spirit, a modern império used in religious celebrations annually
  • Church of São Roque (Igreja Paroquial de Altares/Igreja de São Roque), the parochial single-nave church, dedicated to Saint Roch, was completed in the 15th century, and is located on an elevated terrain occupied along with the parochial school, Museu Etnográfico dos Altares, with an important collection of instruments associated with agriculture and traditional Azorean activities (including exhibition of flora, fauna and ecologia of Terceira).[6]
  • Império of the Holy Spirit of Altares (Império do Espírito Santo de Altares), dating to the early 20th century, the single-room rectangular building is used the festivals associated the Cult of the Holy Spirit held annually by the Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit; it is a highly decorated facade with three gothic-style windows and door, and triangular frontispiece, but also includes annex when the events of the festivals extends.[7]


  1. ^ IGP, ed. (2010), Carta Administrativa Oficial de Portugal (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: Instituto Geográfico Português, retrieved 1 July 2011 
  2. ^ Instituto Nacional de Estatística
  3. ^ Eurostat
  4. ^ a b Junta Freguesia, ed. (2011), A Freguesia (in Portuguese), Angra do Heroísmo (Azores), Portugal: Junta Freguesia de Altares, retrieved 3 October 2012 
  5. ^ a b Junta Freguesia, ed. (2011). "A Freguesia" (in Portuguese). Altares (Angra do Heroísmo), Portugal: Junta Freguesia de Altares. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  6. ^ Noé, Paula (2010), SIPA, ed., Igreja Paroquial de Altares/Igreja de São Roque (PT071901010058) (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico, retrieved 4 October 2012 
  7. ^ Noé, Paula (2012), SIPA, ed., Império do Espírito Santo de Altares (PT071901010075) (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico, retrieved 4 October 2012