Sao Miguel’s Sete Cidades: Cataclysmic Forces Creating Beauty

Last updated: Jan 12th, 2024

Emblematic of extreme and Eden like beauty, with epic visuals, gorgeous lakes, geographic enchantments and reminiscent of your favourite panoramic Insta photo, the Sete Cidades caldera is Mother Nature’s way of showing off.

It wasn’t always as you see it today. Typical of the Azores in general, and tantalising in what once was, monumental forces over hundreds of thousands of years accumulated to create one of the 7 wonders of Portugal.

Out of cataclysm came creation. Here’s how.

From Submarine to Strato to Caldera – a Volcanic Journey

As a story of creation and destruction, the volcanoes and sea tell a mesmeric tale…

Submarine eruptions spewed burning lava over tens of thousands of years, the piping hot volcanic material turning into solid rock quicker than the Atlantic Ocean could erode, forming a gigantic stratovolcano peering high above those majestic waters.


Graphic showing submarine volcano, stratovolcano, caldera stages of Sete Cidades.

A Stratovolcano for the Ages

Over the course of 35 thousand years, three huge explosive eruptions resulted in the destruction of that classic conical shaped mountain and the creation of the iconic caldera you see today. All the magma emptied from the subterranean chambers and created, over a protracted period, the bowl-like shape.

The biggest leftovers from those destructive, cataclysmic eruptions in the ancient past is the caldera and resulting gorgeous twin lakes, but there are others. Remnants of those titanic outbursts can be seen all around the landscape, with pumice rings, lava domes, maars and scoria cones awaiting your discovery!

All at Sea – a Once Solitary Island

Geological findings also show Sete Cidades used to be its own island, with countless effusive eruptions creating land that merged it with Sao Miguel.
One more chapter in the story of creation…

Lagoa Azul & Lagoa Verde with a blue, cloudy sky surrounded by deep green valleys.

Lagoa Azul & Lagoa Verde – Twin Lakes That Aren’t Exactly Identical

Inside the massive crater now sits two lakes separated by one thin strip of land and bridge, one green and the other blue (technically, it’s one body of water that appears as two). At first glance you’d think their colour part of their aquatic make-up, but it’s an optical illusion created by the sun.

But how did the water come to rest in this gorgeous surrounding? Romantic? Then you might want to believe the island legend that the bodies of H20 are the result of lovelorn tears from a shepherd boy and princess denied partnership.

Geographer? Then you’ll probably understand that calderas are almost the perfect setting for lakes, with a build-up of water easy to come by due to the collapsed volcanoes bowl-like shape. With caldera lakes usually showing no obvious entry or exit for the pooled liquid.

Don’t forget Lagoa de Santiago!

Another crater in the Sete Cidades volcanic complex, the lake is surrounded by lush and dense forest and is located in a maar, which is a broad, shallow basin formed by a volcanic eruption with little lava. Stunning.

Trail in the foreground with the Sete Cidades caldera volcanic complex in background.

The Ultimate Lush Green Landscape of Sete Cidades – With Plenty to Do!

Today sees the Edenic scene being labelled as the one of the 7 wonders of Portugal, and it’s easy to see why. Lush, green, undulating, majestic, bold, serene, all wrapped up in one!

Learning about the landscape is just the start, adrenaline activities include kayaking those tranquil lakes and biking trails around the caldera. Taking in education and those sumptuous views. Your students Insta feed will be stuffed with photos for years.

Seeing, Believing, Experiencing Sete Cidades in the Flesh!

Textbook images offer value, but nothing compares to the awestruck feeling of seeing, believing, experiencing the gargantuan and gorgeous vistas of the ancient Sete Cidades. And we love to slot it into an Azores geographic tour.

Ready to chat? Call us today and we can start talking about planning your enchanting trip to the Portuguese state abundant in activity and geography. One you simply have to visit!


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