Azores - São Miguel

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Hike to the Fábricas da Luz

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Here we would like to invite you to the hike to the Fábricas da Luz along the PR 39 SMI. As so often, you have the option to make the hike different. If you only visit the real Lost Places of the Fábrica da Luz, the hike might take a good hour, have about 100 meters of elevation to climb on the way back, and be less than 3 km long. However, we would recommend you to continue walking until Cascata do Segredo and enjoy the tranquility at the waterfall. Then the walk, with breaks, takes about 2.5 h and also has a little more elevation gain. If you, like us, have the possibility that someone fetches the car from the parking lot or you can arrange it otherwise, it is a good idea to follow the path afterwards further to Praia Água d’ Alto. There you can then relax on the beach.

Way to the Fábrica da Cidade

Starting from the parking lot, the trail begins to the first of the old hydroelectric power plants, the Fábrica da Cidade, along the levadas. The two ruins on the hike have just about everything a Lost Place needs. But see for yourself!

Levada on the way to the Fábricas da Luz
Levada on the way to the Fábricas da Luz

After only a short time you reach the water basin in which 5000 m³ of water can initially be stored for the high-load times. At the time of the operation of the power plants, these were still the night hours. Also the name “light factories” still shows where the main application was. The basin was built already in 1906 because of the increasing demand and then extended in 1990.

Impounded water above the Fábricas da Luz
Impounded water above the Fábricas da Luz

Today, residents of the area also like to use the upper part of the path for walks. Thus, the basin has also found a new use.

Dog bathing in the dammed levada
Dog bathing in the dammed levada

Fábrica da Cidade

The Fábrica da Cidade, which you will reach first, is the second power plant of Fábricas da Luz to be built. It went into operation back in 1904 and was used to generate electricity until 1974. In the more than 40 years that have passed since then, nature has almost reclaimed the buildings.

Fábrica da Cidade hidden in the dense vegetation
Fábrica da Cidade hidden in the dense vegetation

From the path, first well hidden among the dense plants, you will find here the actual power plant and the associated workshop building. It goes without saying that you should not enter the ruins.

Sign warns against entering the ruins
Sign warns against entering the ruins

But it is not at all necessary to enter the ruins of the Fábrica da Cidade, because all former windows and doors are open and you can see everything even so. The roofs have long since collapsed and trees lie on the walls, only the machines still defy nature.

Continue to the Fábrica da Vila

Not far away in the valley is the ruin of the oldest power plant of the Fábricas da Luz, the Fábrica da Vila. As the names of the two hydroelectric power plants suggest, the “Factory of the Town” (Fábrica da Vila) could no longer meet the demand soon after its commissioning in 1900, which is why the “Factory of the Town” (Fábrica da Cidade) was built. Actually, however, the name comes from the fact that on 18.03.1900 the power supply in front of Vila Franca do Campo was put into operation and the Fábrica da Cidade was supposed to cover the increasing demand of Ponta Delgada. Until 1972, the Fábrica da Vila was used to generate electricity. By the way, of the 5 power plants, 2 are still in operation and one is now a museum.

Particularly good to see here is how the roots of the trees reclaim the buildings. It is almost demonic how the roots embrace and penetrate the masonry.

Almost demonic looking forms form the roots
Almost demonic looking forms form the roots

On to the Cascata do Segredo

he path along the valley leads you further under the bridge of the highway to the Cascata do Segredo. Along the way you can see very different plants, which are also gladly visited by butterflies. Some species are considered invasive, but they are still beautiful to look at.

Arrived at the waterfall, it is a good idea to take a break and relax a bit and cool off in the pool below the waterfall.

Waterfall densely enclosed in nature is perfect for relaxing
Waterfall densely enclosed in nature is perfect for relaxing

Most of the time it is very quiet here, on weekends families like to come and enjoy the place. The old water pipe that was supposed to bring water to the next power plant has long since been punctured and overgrown with plants.

Relaxation on the beach? You have the choice.

Since from Cascata do Segredo the way to the beach of Praia de Água d’Alto is shorter than the way back, you can see if one of you goes to get the car and you otherwise continue to the beach. At least that’s how we like to do it, especially when we want to end the days at the beach. Of course, I’m usually the one who gets the car, but that’s okay.

Praia Água d'Alto with the somewhat outdated hotel in the background
Praia Água d’Alto with the somewhat outdated hotel in the background

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