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Horta and its port

The city of Horta merges with 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. It is also the reason why this is an island where many peoples have mixed.

From its settlement in the 15th century, by Flemish and Portuguese, to the presence of English, Dutch, American, German and Black slaves, among others, the island of Faial is a harmonious babel built in 6 centuries.

Ships coming from Asia, Africa and the Americas docked here on their way back to Europe. This created an intimate connection between Horta and other parts of the world, especially Brazil. The manor houses and churches that still populate the city date from this period and that resisted piracy and earthquakes.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, Faial was the target of piracy and privateering, especially English. The need to protect the city led to the construction of an extensive set of walls and fortifications. Nowadays, you can visit: in Porto Pim, the Forte de S. Sebastião, Portão do Mar and Bombardeira; in Monte da Guia, parts of the wall and the Greta Fort; in the city center, the Santa Cruz Fort.

The importance of trade, supply of ships and naval repairs gave rise to the presence of consulates and companies, which brought several foreigners to live in Horta.
One of the most significant export products was wine, which gave rise to great interest in the culture of vineyards. Being in Horta, some of the wines were aged in greenhouses, where they were fortified and blended. It was in the “lojas” of the rich houses and in the warehouses of Horta that much of this wine awaited to be shipped. It was this flourishing trade that guided the development of vineyard production, especially in Pico.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the wines produced in Faial, Pico, S. Jorge and Graciosa were exported from Horta all over the world.This wine was preferred in the court of the Czars of Russia and this curiosity shows how far this trade reached… At that time, the wine we now call “Pico wine” was internationally known as “Fayal wine”….
We recommend visiting the Casa dos Dabney, the Horta Museum and the Landscape of Vineyard Culture on the island of Pico.

During the 19th century, Horta was one of the most important whaling ports in the world, with the stop for American whaling ships. This reality gave rise to the intimate connection of the Azoreans with the whaling industry in America. It was these hunting techniques that also gave rise to coastal whaling, which became widespread in the archipelago and lasted until the end of the 20th century.
We propose a visit to the Whaling factory in Porto Pim, to the Scrimshaw museum at Café Peter and to appreciate the elements of “whaling architecture” among the city’s houses.

Between 1893 and 1969, Horta hosted several submarine cable companies. Here colonies of English, Americans and Germans were established. We can see the Mooring Houses in Porto Pim and, along Rua Cônsul Dabney, the Trinity House, the German Colony, and the American and English residential areas.
It was in Horta that the first crossings and commercial air routes across the Atlantic were scaled. It was the mooring location for Pan American seaplanes. It was the port of call for the Dutch tugs that assisted the navigation of the North Atlantic. Horta was a small center of the world.
We also suggest a visit to the Horta Museum and Café Peter.

During World War II, Horta was a naval base for the Allies. For the protection of the port and the installations of the submarine cables of the planes and submarines of the Nazis, an anti-aircraft battery system was built. It can be seen the positions of Monte da Guia, Monte Carneiro and Espalamaca.

Nowadays, the most visible face of this importance for navigation is the Marina, since the 1960s, a mecca for world oceanic yachting. It is worth visiting the Marina, where you will find boats from all over and many thousands of paintings alluding to their travels.

This attraction in Horta and Faial is absolutely unique in the history of the Azores. This created an international environment that does not exist on any other island in the archipelago and contributed strongly to an Azorean presence in the world, especially in Brazil (Pernambuco, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul), Hawaii Islands, New England and California.

Know more about how to explore Horta