Sete Cidades Azores by Capture Light ShutterstockTrek the caldera rim around the stunning twin lakes of Sete Cidades to enjoy the most spectacular view in the Azores © Capture Light, Shutterstock

With two stunning lakes, Sete Cidades is certainly a place to enjoy some of the most spectacular views in the Azores.

Mythology provides a romantic history. Once long ago in the kingdom of the Seven Cities, there was a king. He had a very pretty daughter who loved the countryside and happily roamed the fields, the little valleys and the surrounding hills. One day she came across a handsome shepherd boy tending his animals, and they shyly spoke. As the days went by she saw him again, and then again, and slowly romance blossomed and they fell deeply in love. Unfortunately, her father came to hear of this romance and was furious, because he intended his daughter to marry a neighbouring prince who was heir to a large kingdom. He forbade his daughter ever to see her shepherd boy again, but she pleaded so well that he agreed they could meet for one last time. At the final parting, they both cried so much two lakes were formed, one blue from the princess’s eyes, the other green from those of the shepherd boy, and although they were parted forever, their tears have remained united.

Inevitably you will stop at the main viewpoint, the Vista do Rei, named from King Carlos’s visit in 1901, where you can see both lakes of tears. The circumference of the caldera is roughly 12km.

The raffish traveller Thomas Ashe, describing his travels on São Miguel in 1813, wrote that the banks were planted with hemp or flax, which was cured in the lakes. There were only half a dozen houses in the valley where the hemp growers lived, and manufacturing was done by the village of Bretanha and neighbouring villages; some 50,000 yards was used domestically and more for export. The surrounding hillsides with their trees in little groves and bowers and the long winding valleys ‘made them pre-eminently beautiful, and particularly favourable for romantic leisure and tender passions’.

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