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  • Writer's pictureRita Cardoso

S. Miguel, Açores | Parque Terra Nostra

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

Inside the Furnas Crater, 7km diameter, especially in the so-called Vale das Furnas, there were hundreds of thermal springs, due to the volcanic activity of the area. All these mineral waters springs, varied and with the most diverse properties, aroused the interest of the population, who began to use them for medicinal purposes, for rheumatism and obesity, for example.

And, the Terra Nostra Park was located right in the middle of all these springs. But it did not start with this name, nor with the dimension and configuration that it has today, with its 12.5 acres and the magnificent thermal tank in the center.

Around 1775, Thomas Hickling ordered the construction of a wooden house (Yankee Hall) at the foot of this thermal tank, rustic and smallest than now, but already with the central island and a small bridge. He surrounded this tank with trees and that was how this beautiful park was born. Over the years, the park has undergone some changes, the wooden house has been replaced, the plants have been changed, although it is still possible to see next to the tank, a huge English oak planted by Hickling. Until the park was abandoned and reached a great state of degradation at the beginning of the 20th century.

Until one day, right next door, in 1935 the Hotel Terra Nostra opens to the public, and a few years later the Terra Nostra Society acquires the entire property and, during its restoration, the park takes on its current configuration. The park's house was renovated, the thermal tank was expanded and lined with stonework and the entire garden and woods were restored, and were also created new iconic spaces.

This garden of great botanical importance, was renovated again in the winter of 1992/1993, preparing it sustainably for future development.

In this incredible park, there are many species of endemic flora from the Azores, as well as countless exotic specimens from places like New Zealand, Australia, China, South Africa and North America. To maintain the harmony and adaptation of all these species, a lot of specialists’ care is necessary to ensure that these plants develop healthily. For more information about the park, its history and the plants that you can found there, click here.

Among the most attractive places in the park are the caves, the Bromeliad garden, the Endemic and Native Flora garden of the Azores, the collection of more than 600 different species of Camellias, the animal-shaped topiaries, the Volcanic water Lake with its bubbles in the hot water, the serpentiform water channel and the paths and avenues lined up with trees and ferns, not forgetting one of the most popular, the thermal tank with yellow iron waters and temperatures around 25ºC.

I always get lost in this park, as it is so beautiful, and even if it has many visitors, it is always possible to find corners and spaces without anyone.

Our last visit was on a hot August day, so we didn't feel like going into the hot water, although the rest of the park is cool and pleasant due to the tall plants and trees, with lots of shadows, but don't miss out on the experience, but if possible, reserve a cooler day to visit. Even without going to the thermal pool, it is very worth the visit to the park.


Recommendations:

  • Bring a darker or older swimsuit, as iron water will stain light fabrics and, you will need a good shower afterwards to remove the remains of the body.

  • Eating in the park is not allowed, but there is a hotel restaurant that is connected to the park. A meal in this restaurant offers entrance to the park. This restaurant is known for serving a very good Cozido das Furnas.

  • Go with time, the opening hours are not very long, but it is worth exploring each corner.

  • Check here prices and schedules.

  • Check here to see the suggested itineraries by season and the map of the park.



Click here to see my list of suggestions of places to visit in S. Miguel.

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