Azores, Portugal: A ‘truck stop’ for centuries

Ever heard of Angra do Heroismo?

Paulo da Gama, Vasco's brother and fellow explorer, is buried in this former convent in Angra do Heroismo.

If you’d lived in the 15th century and hung out with the likes of Vasco da Gama and other explorers and seafarers who were, as it were, on the road a lot, you might have.

In its heyday centuries ago, this harbor city — a principal Azores city and World Heritage site — was a link between Europe and the New World.

It was a big port of call and trading post for giant ships loaded with all kinds of treasures from around the world.

The city had a great geographical selling point: a pretty bay sheltered from the wind by hills.

The same hills that make walking along the cobblestone streets more like San Francisco or San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Old palaces and churches were decorated with some of the exotic wood and gold that was shipped in.

Where treasures abounded, so did pirates. Some of the city fortresses were built to keep them — and other would-be invaders out.

The glory is all gone now.

But the beauty remains.

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