Horta and its port
The strategic position of the Azores archipelago and the exceptionally sheltered character of Horta Bay have made the port one of the most important ports in world sailing history and the basis for a history where many peoples have arrived and crossed.
From its settlement in the 15th century, by Flemish and Portuguese, to the presence of Black Slaves, English, Dutch, American and German, among others, the island of Faial is a harmonious babel built in 6 centuries.
Here have arrived ships from Asia and Africa and from the Americas on their return to Europe, creating a close connection with other parts of the world, especially Brazil. These are the manors and churches that still populate the city and have resisted piracy and earthquakes that can be enjoyed on a city tour.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, Faial was the target of piracy and Corsican, especially English, giving rise to a set of walls and fortifications to defend the city. In Porto Pim you can visit the S. Sebastião Fort, the Sea Gate and the Bombardier, in Monte da Guia parts of the wall and the Greta’s Fort and, in the city center, the Santa Cruz Fort.
The importance of ship trade and ship repairs led to the presence of consulates and companies that brought several foreigners to Horta. One of the most significant export products was wine, which generated great interest in vine growing. It was in the “stores” on the ground floor of Horta's large dwellings and warehouses that much of this wine was awaiting, and it was this flourishing trade that guided the development of vineyard production, especially in Pico, in areas facing Faial. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, wines produced in Faial, Pico, S. Jorge and Graciosa were exported from Horta around the world, having been known to be the favorite wine in the court of the Tsars of Russia… At that time the wine that we now call “Pico wine” was known as Fayal wine…. The Dabney's House, the Horta Museum and the Pico Island Vineyard Culture Landscape await for yout visit.
Horta was throughout the XIX century one of the most important whaling ports in the world. The stopping of the American whaling ships, which gave rise to the close connection of the Azoreans with the whaling industry in America, remained until the 20th century. You can look at its history at the Porto Pim Whale Factory, Café Peter's Scrimshaw Museum and enjoy the elements of “whaling architecture” among the town's houses.
Between the years 1893 and 1969 Horta hosted several submarine cable companies. Here colonies of English, Americans and Germans were established. Mooring houses can be seen in Porto Pim and along Consul Dabney Street, Trinity House, the German Colony, home to a 1912 stained glass panel, the American colony (now turned into a hotel) and residential areas.
In Horta they climbed the first Atlantic commercial air crossings and routes, being the mooring place for Pan American seaplanes. It was the port of call of the Dutch tugboats assisting North Atlantic shipping. Horta was a small center of the world. The Horta Museum and Café Peter can be visited.
During World War II, anti-aircraft batteries were built to protect the city. Although not all are visitable, the ones at Monte Carneiro and Espalamaca can be seen.
Nowadays, the most visible part of this importance for navigation is Marina, headquarters of world yachting since the 1960s. It is worth a walk in the Marina, where you can find boats from all over the place and many thousands of paintings alluding to its trips.
This attraction of Horta and Faial is absolutely unique in Azorean history and, while, on the one hand, gave rise to an international environment that does not exist on any other island of the archipelago, on the other hand it also contributed strongly to an especially remarkable Azorean presence in the world. in Brazil (Pernambuco, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul), Hawaii Islands, New England and California.