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Trip Planner Europe  /  Portugal  /  Azores  /  Sao Jorge  /  Velas


Geologic Formations · Observation Decks · Churches
Velas is a municipality in the São Jorge Island, in the Portuguese autonomous region of Azores. The municipality encompasses the western portion of the island, with its municipal seat in the town of Velas on the south coast, and is divided into six parishes. The population in 2011 was 5,398, in an area of 117.38 km².HistoryThe origin of the name Velas has never been clarified by historians, although it may refer to the number of sailing ships that congregated in the municipality, but may also refer to the "sails" of the windmills that populated the municipality during early settlement. There may also been confusing in the similarity between velas, the word velhas or "belas" . Another reference is to the Portuguese term "vilar", which means vigilant, and may have been used to situation in the Canal, where residents were ever-vigilant for volcanic eruptions and/or seismic events.The village of Velas is one of the oldest settled communities on the island, and has been traced back to the testimony of Infante D. Henrique, who referred to the 1460 when the community congregated around their church to the evocation of São Jorge. Its administrative status was elaborated in 1500, when it became the municipal authority and main village in the western part of the island . It was in 1507 that Velas could be identified on a map of the island of São Jorge as village. Similarly, the localities of Santo António, and in 1559 Manadas were first recognized as a major settlements in the municipality; both centers would become religious parishes in 1543 and 1568 respectively. It was also in 1568, that Rosais would be recognized as a parish.
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