Vila do Porto
|Vila do Porto|
From Pico Alto, the view of the main settlement of the island of Santa Maria, the community of Vila do Porto
|Official name: Concelho da Vila do Porto|
|Name origin: Portuguese for village of the port|
|Municipality||Vila do Porto|
|Civil Parishes||Almagreira, Santa Bárbara, Santo Espírito, São Pedro, Vila do Porto|
|Center||Bom Despacho Velho|
|- elevation||242 m (794 ft)|
|Highest point||Pico Alto|
|- elevation||586.64 m (1,925 ft)|
|Lowest point||Sea level|
|- location||Atlantic Ocean|
|- elevation||0 m (0 ft)|
|Area||96.89 km2 (37 sq mi)|
|- urban||3.72 km2 (1 sq mi)|
|Density||57 / km2 (148 / sq mi)|
|- location||Largo Nossa Senhora da Conceição|
|- elevation||89 m (292 ft)|
|President||Nélia Maria Coutinho Figueiredo|
|Municipal Chair||António José Tavares de Loura|
|- summer (DST)||Azores (UTC0)|
|Area Code & Prefix||(+351) 292 XX XX XX|
|Patron Saint||Nossa Senhora da Assunção|
|Municipal Holidays||15 August|
Location of the municipality of Vila do Porto in the archipelago of the Azores
|Wikimedia Commons: Vila do Porto|
Vila do Porto (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈvilɐ ðu ˈpoɾtu], the Port Town) is the single municipality, the name of the main town and one of the civil parishes on the island of Santa Maria, in the Portuguese archipelago of Azores. Its nearest neighbor, administratively, is the municipality of Povoação on the southern coast of São Miguel (to the northwest), and it is physically southwest of the islets of the Formigas. The population in 2011 was 5,552, in an area of 96.89 km².
Santa Maria was the first island in the archipelago to be discovered by Diogo Silves in 1427. By 2 July 1439, a royal charter from Infante D. Pedro, regent of D. Afonso V, referred to the fact that Prince Henry the Navigator had ordered that sheep be set ashore along the seven islands of the Azores (since Corvo and Flores had, at the time, not been discovered). São Miguel and Santa Maria were the first islands to be settled by families from Estremadura, Alto Alentejo and Algarve, facilitated by Gonçalo Velho, then first donatary-captain of the Azores. Gonçalo Velho Cabral, nobleman in the House of the Infante D. Henrique (Henry the Navigator) and commander in the Order of Christ, arrived on the island of Santa Maria in 1432. In the cartography of the 14th Century, the island was referred to as Ilha dos Lobos (Island of Wolves, referring to the wolf seals that lived in the region at the time). It became the seat of the first Captaincy of the Azores, which initially included both Santa Maria and São Miguel.
Its first settlement originated in 1439, with the occupation of Praia dos Lobos (and eventually became the northern coastal village of Anjos). Around 1450, was the probably foundation of the settlement of Porto, by Fernão de Quental. Quental's colony was established along the south coast along an escarpment overlooking a small bay that afforded protection for ships: what would become known as the Vila do Porto (town of the port). This town would become incorporated in 1470, when the town of Porto received the obligatory and first foral (charter), in addition to the establishment of the first lighthouse in the Azores. Although never experiencing earthquakes since its initial settlement (in comparison to the other islands in the Azores), the community was always marked by isolation, inaccessibility and weak defensive position.
It was, by the beginning of the 17th century, the fortification of São Brás along the cliff-tops of Cimo da Rocha, was constructed, near the hermitage dedicated to Our Lady of the Conception.
Between 1942 and 1944, in the context of the Second World War, the airport was constructed to provide support and emergency facilities for the island. This airport was transferred to the Portuguese Air Force in 1946, and the barrio (Bairro do Aeroporto) was begun by architect Keil do Amaral.
On 21 October 1992, the historical centre was protected, a zone delimited by Vila do Porto, under Regional Legislative Decree 22/92/A. By 24 August 2004, a new document was published by the regional legislature (Decree 29/2004/A), that set out the jurisdictional regime to protect, conserve and promote the cultural heritage; classified under article 58, the "historic centre" of Vila do Porto, was reclassified as a Group of Public Interest, and the older protections revoked.
The municipality covers the entirety of the island of Santa Maria, in the eastern edge of the archipelago of the Azores. Nascently a coastal municipality, the settlements are nonetheless located over a cliff-top platform, dominated in the west by a semi-arid plain and in the east by the hugged flanks of the Pico Alto mountainous ridge. Although its principal urban area is located along linear tracts in the southwestern coast (oriented north to south), there exist various urban settlements and agglomerations throughout the island.
The municipality incorporates the island of Santa Maria in its entirety, and is divide into five parishes (population in 2011):
- Almagreira, 599 residents, 11.22 km²;
- Santa Bárbara, 405 residents, 15.27 km²;
- Santo Espírito, 588 residents, 26.68 km²;
- São Pedro, 841 residents, 18.17 km²;
- Vila do Porto, 3,119 residents, 25.55 km²;
Vila do Porto's sister city is:
- Church of Nossa Senhora do Bom Despacho (Portuguese: Igreja Paroquial de Almagreira/Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Bom Despacho), constructed under the orders of Manuel de Moura and his wife, Inês Pereira, in the early 18th century, and evolved into the parochial church of Almagreira;
- Church of Santa Bárbara (Portuguese: Igreja Paroquial de Santa Bárbara/Igreja de Santa Bárbara), dating to the middle of the 17th century, the parochial church of Santa Bárabra is marked by presbytery and lateral angular chapels;
- Hermitage of Nossa Senhora de Lurdes (Portuguese: Ermida de Nossa Senhora de Lurdes), the isolated single-nave hermitage in the region of Norte, is known for its main altar, constructed using volcanic stone, resembling the grotto where the Marian apparition occurred in Lourdes, France;
- Hermitage of Santo Amaro (Portuguese: Ermida de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios/Ermida de Santo Amaro), dedicated to Saint Maurus (but, later to Our Lady of Medicine), this simple, coastal chapel is located alongside Ribeira da Praia, of palstered masonry brickwork. The single-nave chapel includes well-preserved wood pulpit, designed in the Baroque-style and ancillary sacristy.
- Império of the Holy Spirit of Santa Bárbara (Portuguese: Império do Espírito Santo de Santa Bárbara/Treatro do Espírito Santo de Santa Bárbara), the small, unimposing treatro or chapel dedicated to the annual celebrations of the Cult of the Holy Spirit, was dedicated in 1900, to replace existent temporary structures. The simple one-room space includes altar and space for the artifacts of the religious and ceremonial processions held throughout the period following Pentecost Sunday;
- Instituto Nacional de Estatística
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- Noé, Paula (2012), SIPA, ed., Igreja Paroquial de Santa Bárbara/Igreja de Santa Bárbara (IPA.00033886/PT072107020019) (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico, retrieved 2 November 2013
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