Horta’s naturally sheltered bays have long been a safe-haven for Atlantic ships – from the first settlers arriving in the 15th Century; for Brazilian trade ships filled with gold and cinnamon in the 17th Century, and right up to the 19th & 20th Centuries when U.S. whaling ships used the town as a repair and resupply point. Modern-day Horta is still popular resupply point for trans-Atlantic yachts, and the first stop on your walking tour is the yachtsmans’ favourite bar Peter’s Café Sport:
Peter’s opened it’s doors in 1918 – current owner Jose Henrique Azevedo is the third generation of his family to manage the bar. His Grandfather named the bar ‘Café Sport’, and the ‘Peter’ was Jose’s father’s nickname during his war service on the RMS Lusitana. Just across the Avenida 25 de Abril is the Forte de Santa Cruz. Built by Spanish King Felipe II during his reign as King of Portugal in the 1500s, the fort was designated a national monument in 1947, before being decommissioned and repurposed as the Pousada da Horta Hotel in 1969:
Heading away from the marina, you’ll visit Horta’s most historic buildings – the impressive Camara Municipal da Horta and the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo. The former houses the Museu da Horta which has an excellent exhibit on the island’s history, particularly the 16th and 17th Centuries:
The nearby 18th Century Torre do Relogio clock tower commemorates a much older 15th century church, which was destroyed when English pirates (under the sponsorship of Elizabeth I) attacked a Spanish garrison stationed in town. The Jardim de Forencio Jose Terra is just next door – dedicated to Faial’s most-famous writer, it’s a peaceful spot with a lovely view across the channel to the neighbouring island of Pico:
A short walk brings you to the Teatro Faialense – the first theatre in the Azores. The original building opened to the public in 1856 before being replaced by the current theatre in 1916. Following a refurbishment in 2003, the Teatro widened it’s remit, becoming Faial’s main classical music venue and cinema:
Passing through the Jardim da Praça da República, you’ll come to the Império dos Nobres – erected in 1760 in memory of the Cabeco do Fogo volcanic eruption, which devastated the north coast of the island:
Close-by is my favourite building in Faial – the art-deco headquarters of the Sociedade Amor da Pátria – the Love of the Fatherland Society: a philanthropic charity which has been fundraising for the island through cultural events for over 150 years:
Your walking tour of Horta ends at the town’s colourful marina – it’s a long-standing tradition for crews to paint murals on the harbour wall before setting sail:
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Great little company with friendly staff. Organisation of flights & accommodation very efficient. When problems arise they are helpful and very reasonable in their efforts to resolve them. We would definitely use them again for a return trip.
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A wonderful break in a beautiful environment!
Everything was excellent. The information and organisation, the hotel and the island itself all exceeded our expectations. Whale watching and other trips out, fantastic. We will book again!
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