Back in early summer, we took a family vacation to Portugal. The Hubby’s parents were born in Portugal and we wanted to immerse ourselves and our girls in the culture. We spent one week on the island of Sao Miguel, Azores, Portugal where my mother-in-law is from. Then we flew to Lisbon, Portugal the mainland and spent a week. It was the most amazing trip that I have been on. This was my first time in Europe and spending two weeks visiting so many villages and cities, by plane, car, taxi, train, ferry and foot it felt very luxurious and my own Portuguese oasis.
I have not done a Portugal vacation post yet, since I came home with thousand of pictures it was impossible to pick the top ten or so to share with you. I have decided that I will share several posts around specific experiences which will be easier to manage and share.
The first experience that I am bringing to you is our accidental Urban Exploration. Before going to Portugal, I had spent months researching tourist attractions, restaurants, beaches, and food that I wanted to visit and try. I cam across a few articles about an abandoned hotel on the Island of Sao Miguel, but did not add it to my list as I assumed we would never cross paths. We visited the Lagoa das sete cidades which is a twin lake in an ancient dormant volcano that due to reflecting the sunlight one side looks green and the other looks blue. After taking in the views, we continued to drive up the mountain and at top, all alone with no hustle and bustle stood the massive concrete abandoned hotel. There was no fence, no guards, no signs and a few other tourists walking about so as a family we got out and explored. This is what we saw:
Abandoned hotel at the top of the mountain, in the clouds. The style is reminiscent of a pagoda.
The center of the hotel, all corridors overlooked this center. At one point there must haven been massive chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.
A massive spiral staircase, led you to each new floor.
It was steep and led to an abyss.
A hallway now open to the wild.
Every room had a window the majority the side facing the lakes.
Bathrooms were covered in hand painted tile.
Overlooking from one wing of the hotel to the other. Behind the hotel, was once patio space.
The ground floor with columns and completely open to nature.
From the back patio, the wing leads you straight to the mountain side.
Throughout the hotel, there are layers and layers of graffiti now that everything that had once lived there has been stolen. Down to tile, carpet, fixtures even wood and nails were taken by locals. I came across this:
“I hope that one day you will change. See everyone ain’t the same. We’re more than machines. You saw a spark where there wasn’t a flame. And you barely remember nu name. Do you feel complete? #minisorrisos (A quick google search reveals that mini sorrisos is a local artist)
It was not until we were back home in Boston that I researched how the hotel became abandoned. There isn’t much information readily available, but this is what I gathered. It was opened in 1989 by a wealthy French Firm hoping to capitalize on tourism and the breathtaking views. Tourism was not what it is today (which from what I saw is still very little, at least on the island) and after only operating for 1 to 2 years it shut it’s doors. Security guards and dogs were hired to watch over the empty building for roughly 10 years, before the money ran dry and the hotel was completely abandoned in the mid 2000’s.
Even though the views from the hotel are spectacular and tourism is rising, the visibility is terrible because you are in the clouds. Fog is very prevalent. Coupled with the fact, that the hotel is not conveniently located to any village or amenities and accessible by only one road. It was doomed to fail.
The hotel is grand, spectacular and eerie. The green color of the carpet and the beauty of the blue tiles peaks through the decay and destruction. Nature is slowly but surely taking over. All that remains are concrete walls, sharp edges, large empty windows, open space to nature.
Walking through the empty halls evoked mixed emotions. Failure by people, triumph by nature. The hotel was created by people to view nature. Nature prevented itself being gaucked at and is reclaiming its space. Even if Urban Exploration is not an activity you often partake in, visiting this site is worth the drive on a clear day.