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Furnas, Azores Islands
Another one of São Miguel's outstanding visitors' attractions is the landscape of Furnas, comprising a lake, a valley and a village, located inland from the south-eastern coast. The especially during the summer much visited village of Furnas has a splendid botanical garden, the Terra Nostra Park, founded in the 18th century by the then American Consul Thomas Hickling. It features magnificent centenary trees, an exuberant vegetation from all over the world, small ponds, meandering paths and a pool with therapeutic warm and muddy waters. For passionate golfers, the village of Furnas also offers a beautiful golf course. Yet, Furnas won its fame primarily from its 22 sources, consisting of mineral, sulphurous and mud sources that can be found here. Since 1630 when a powerful eruption took place, this region boasts an amazing variety of volcanic activity, among which also hot geysers (the hottest, Pêro Botelho, reaching 99°C). The thermal sources are reputed for their therapeutic qualities in the treatment of all kind of respiratory-related illnesses known up to date. The different sources can be used in balneotherapies as well as mineral water cures. Furnas Valley is crossed by two torrents, one is cold and one is warm and iron-bearing, and is considered one of Europe's richest hydrological regions.
The 2 km long Lagoa de Furnas is a paradisiacal refuge, where the Gothic profile of the Chapel Nossa Senhora das Victórias beautifully reflects on its calm and clear waters. It has a small sandy beach, provided with a bar and pedal boats, which you can rent during summertime. Here, you will also find fumeroles, but they are less impressive – even if their odour is as strong – than those of the village. This is also the place with the 'natural kitchens' where the famous 'cozido', one of the most popular dishes of the Azores, is cooked for several hours buried in the ground, with all ingredients thrown together in a pot, which is closed hermetically. Not only a tourist attraction, this is a popular Sunday lunch tradition to come out here with the whole family and cook the 'cozido' and enjoy this tasty dish in these magnificent surroundings.