Praia da Vitória - A view from our expert author

Praia da Vitoria by Francisco Caravana Shutterstock© Francisco Caravana, Shutterstock

On the island of Terceira, Praia da Vitória feels open and bright with an attractive main square and extensive shopping street.

In contrast with other towns in the archipelago, Praia always feels open and bright. It has an attractive main square and a long pedestrianised shopping street. The extensive lowlands of this eastern half of the island produced large quantities of wheat, and the wealth created is reflected in many fine houses in the town. At first called simply Praia, it gained town status in 1640. In 1581, after bombarding Angra, a Spanish fleet of ten ships was reconnoitring the Terceira coast and anchored in Salga Bay, in the southeastern corner.

They were seen and the alarm given but by the time the Portuguese arrived 1,000 Castillians had landed and were already bent on destruction. After a morning’s fierce but indecisive fighting an Augustinian friar had the idea to drive cattle at the enemy. Over 1,000 animals were stampeded at the Spaniards, who fell back in disarray and were either killed or drowned on the shore. Thus ended the Battle of Salga. Again battle came to Praia in 1829, when the town, supporting the Liberal cause, successfully resisted an attempted landing by an Absolutist fleet of 21 ships. In commemoration, the town was called Praia da Vitória in 1837. The nearby Lajes airport now covers much of what were the great wheatfields of earlier days.

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