Monday, 3 November 2008

The Azores: Islands in the Atlantic Discovered Long Before Columbus

I spent much of the weekend reading about 15th century Portugal, as I begin work on the next non-fiction project which will be about Portugal and its legacy around the world. One of the things I was looking for was information about when the Azores were first discovered by Europeans. It seems they show up on an Italian portalan or map fragment in the 14th century, and certainly it’s clear the uninhabitated islands were colonized in the 1430s under the grand exploration promoted by Henry the Navigator. Santa Maria was the place where Christopher Columbus stopped on his way back in 1493 because he’d vowed he’d have a mass said at the first church he came to.

When I was working on The Violets of Usambara I had the chance to visit São Miguel and Santa Maria: two of the main characters in the book are immigrants from São Miguel and I wanted to see what the island was like. A beautiful place! Here are a couple of pictures from that trip.

Note from Valentine's Day 2009: There's a new reading guide available for The Violets: Click here to find it.

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