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Gruta do Natal

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Exploring the Enchanting Gruta do Natal in Angra do Heroísmo

If you're looking for a unique and captivating adventure in Angra do Heroísmo, the Gruta do Natal (Christmas Cave) is a must-visit destination. Located in the municipality of Praia da Vitória, on the island of Terceira in the Azores, this cave system offers a fascinating glimpse into the island's geological history and cultural significance.

A Historical Journey

Originally known as Galeria Negra or Gruta do Cavalo, the cave was renamed Gruta do Natal after its exploration in 1969. Legend has it that the cave got its name when a horse fell into the entrance, leaving behind its remains. Since then, the cave has become a symbol of Christmas and a place of celebration.

Architectural Marvels

The Gruta do Natal stretches for a total length of 697 meters, offering visitors a unique underground experience. The cave features easy-to-navigate pathways with minimal incline and high ceilings, making it accessible to all. The internal circuit is designed to ensure that visitors don't have to retrace their steps.

Inside the cave, you'll be mesmerized by the diverse geological formations, including lava flows, stalactites, and lateral balconies. These formations provide a fascinating insight into the volcanic origins of the Azores islands.

Cultural and Scientific Significance

Beyond its geological wonders, the Gruta do Natal holds cultural and historical significance. Over the years, the cave has been the site of various events, including Christmas Mass, baptisms, and even weddings. Its cultural importance is deeply rooted in the traditions and folklore of the local community.

The cave also serves as an educational space, attracting teachers and students who come to learn about volcanic phenomena and the formation of the Azores islands. The Gruta do Natal offers a unique opportunity to witness the power of nature and understand the geological processes that shaped these islands.

When to Visit

The Gruta do Natal is open to the public throughout the year, except on specific holidays such as New Year's Day, Carnival Tuesday, Easter Sunday, December 1st, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve. It is advisable to check the opening hours before planning your visit.

How to Get There

The Gruta do Natal is located approximately 12 kilometers from the city of Angra do Heroísmo, near Picos Gordos. It is situated within the Natural Forest Reserve of Serra de Santa Bárbara and Mistérios Negros, surrounded by high-altitude pastures and cryptomeria forests, next to Lagoa do Negro.

To reach the cave, follow the road towards the Biscoitos parish, and you'll find a sign indicating its existence and location at a road junction, about 500 meters away.


The Gruta do Natal in Angra do Heroísmo is a hidden gem that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural significance, and educational value. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking an unforgettable experience, this cave system is sure to leave you in awe. Plan your visit to the Gruta do Natal and embark on a journey through time and nature's wonders.

Updated on 27 May 2024

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