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  • Writer's pictureRita Cardoso

São Miguel, Açores | Lagoa das Sete Cidades – Vista do Rei e Hotel Monte Palace

Once upon a time, there was a princess, with deep blue eyes, from Sete Cidades Kingdom, and every day she left her castle to go walk freely on the fields, hills and valleys and watch the birds, the plants and the sea. Once upon a time there was a poor shepherd, with beautiful green eyes, and he was on those fields, keeping his flock. One day, their paths have crossed, and their love for Nature brought them together and they deeply fell in love.

But, there’s always a but on this stories, the princess’s hand was already promised to another kingdom’s prince. So, realizing that this was the end, on their last day together, they cried and cried and cried, until two lagoons started to form, a green one and a blue one. And till today, the lagoons are together, side by side, forever, like they wished to be.

And that’s the legend on the formation of the Sete Cidades Lagoon.

The Sete Cidades Lagoon, at Ponta Delgada, is the biggest superficial sweet water lagoon in Azores, with 33 meters maximum depth, and is divided in two lagoons, a green one and a blue one, connected only by a narrow shallow strait, which is crossed by a bridge. The lagoon is located within an ancient crater from a dormant volcano, and because of that, the surrounding walls are quite steep and tall, but very rich in vegetation and perfect conditions for agriculture, as they are very fertile.

This lagoon was also elected as on of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal in 2007.

The scientific explanation for these two different colors is actually really simple, because they have different depths, they also grow different algae, and different algae concentration, and those conditions make the water reflect two distinguished colors. I’m sorry for breaking your hearts for contradicting the legend…

Besides unique views, there are other activities than you can join at the lagoon. There are some rental or adventure companies where you can try kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddle, ATVs, and you can even have a nice picnic near the lake while observing the grazing cows.

Viewpoint Vista do Rei

This viewpoint has one of the greatest views to Sete Cidades Lagoon, with a straight view over the green lagoon and then the blue lagoon further away, so it’s one of the most popular sites. It owes its name (King's View) to King D. Carlos I and Queen D. Amélia when they did a royal visit to the Azores on the 6th of July 1901.

At this viewpoint there is a small parking lot and some souvenir shops, but on busier days there is an alternative parking lot, just 1km from the viewpoint. If you park here, there are great great views from the side of the road, watch out for the cars, obviously.

You must choose a good visibility day to see the lagoon, as there are frequently low clouds or fog at this place making it impossible to observe the lagoon.

Hotel Monte Palace

This 5 star hotel, dressed in luxuries and imported materials, was functioning only less than two years, between 1989 and 1990, when bankruptcy was declared. Until the year of 2011 was still closed and protected with security guards and dogs. But due to lack of payments even those ones disappeared too. A while after they were gone, the robbing and the vandalism has started, and absolutely everything was taken. Tapestries, tiles, bathtubs, furniture, elevators, all gone. They broke windows, stairs, walls and the formerly magnificent hotel has taken on a completely haunted and dark appearance.

There’s thisTV report, all in Portuguese, but with pictures and videos from the before and after.

Nowadays, it’s of easy access, you just need to walk a few meters from the Vista do Rei Viewpoint, and all the gates and doors are open or not even there, showing the total abandonment. As soon as you get in, the destruction is everywhere, rubble piles cover the cement floor, graffiti on the walls, it becomes hard to imagine the luxury from before.

We explored the several floors, but we spent more time where the rooms were, at the last floor, as it was the place with the sight to the lagoon. Here, the view was really really great, like a painting, so beautiful.

We still went to the rooftop (photo), but this was where I got a little apprehensive, I got the real sense of abandonment when I saw the cracks on the floor and I lost my confidence to walk there.

So, I cannot recommend or not recommend you to visit this place, if you decide to go, go at your own risk, as it isn’t the safest place. Also, all that taunted mood, can make you feel scared and you feel it by every weird noise or voices not knowing where they exactly come from.

There were some rumors that it would reopen in 2021 with new owners, but I know nothing more about this, only time will tell, but I guess that in these pandemic times it will be harder.

Viewpoint Cerrado das Freiras

This viewpoint has a side view, in the center of the two lagoons, which allows you to see more clearly the difference in colors of the two lagoons. It is a very beautiful view, but personally I did not think it was the best. But since it is on the side of the road, and there are also some street vendors selling souvenirs, you don't miss out on stopping and going to see for yourself.

Recommendations before visiting these places:

  • Check the weather before you go. Spotazores has always been my choice, with direct cameras covering most of the island. If there are clouds and little sunshine the colors of the lagoon are not so vivid.

  • Try to go during hours with less people, to enjoy it for yourself, it is a very popular place.

  • Go prepared with comfortable shoes, you may have to park far and have to walk uphill and downhill.

  • Always take an extra piece of warmer clothing and a raincoat or windbreaker. What is said about the Azores’ weather is very real, 4 seasons of the year in one day and real suddenly.

Click here to check the post with my location suggestions to visit at S. Miguel.

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