Sightseeing in Horta from south to north (1):
All of Horta’s main points of interests
and historic buildings are concentrated in the old part of the town, stretching from south to north along a long bay most southern point is the old natural harbour Porto Pim
and the most northern point the Parque da Algoa
, a public park with some barbecue areas. Horta
is divided into the three parishes of Angústias
- the quarter around Porto Pim
representing the centre around the church São Salvador
the northern part of the town, becoming mainly residential, with its pretty houses spreading on the surrounding slopes, providing magnificent views across the sea and of the Pico Mountain.
, until 1878 Horta
’s main harbour, lies in a circular bay, boasting a beautiful sand beach bordered by turquoise waters, the main bathing venue of the town. Of the 17th century fortifications, which once protected the harbour, only remain the old harbour gate, Portão Fortificado de Porto Pim
and the walls of the small Forte de São Sebastião
. Also in this bay, to the left of the beach, are the remains of an old whaling factory, which houses today an interesting whaling museum documenting the work of the whalers and the processing.
The Observatório Príncipe Alberto do Mónaco
northeast of the old harbour was founded in 1915 originally as a weather station, but today it serves as volcanic surveying and early-warning centre. It was named after the geologist and oceanographer Prince Albert of Monaco, the first of this name, who visited the Azores towards the end of the 19th century.
The Igreja Nossa Senhora das Angústias
, erected in the 17th century on the foundations of a 15th-century chapel, is the only church in town that turns its back to the sea. It houses the tombs of Horta
’s founder van Hurtere and his wife and it has a bronze plaque on the floor reminding of Martin Behaim, the renowned German cartographer and creator of the first globe, who lived on the island for about 10 years and got wed in the original chapel. Also noteworthy, a beautiful example of an earthen Christmas crib from the 18th century and the coat-of-arms of the town’s influential families covering the ceiling of the choir. Severely damaged by the 1998 earthquake, this church is still undergoing reconstruction and renovation works at the time.
The Igreja de São Francisco
once belonged to a Franciscan convent whose original buildings were destroyed by fire during Sir Walter Raleigh’s raid in 1597 and rebuilt in 1696 at the same time when the construction of this church started. The three-naved church has a notable baroque façade and a richly adorned interior, featuring a magnificent gilded wood-carved main altar one of the most precious relicts of religious art in the Azores, beautiful azulejos
panels and a splendid coffered ceiling. Accommodated within this building complex was once also a Sacred Art Museum
, displaying a comprehensive collection of religious figures from the 15th to the 19th century, old furniture and other related exhibits. Due to renovation works after the earthquake in 1998, this museum had to be closed and will probably be installed in another church. During this transition period some of the exhibits can be seen in the town museum.
South of the church lies the town’s central square, the palm-shaded Praça do Infante
, which is bordered by richly adorned façades of some old town houses. Adjacent to the square is a pleasant garden with a pavilion where also a bust of the Infante Dom Henrique (Prince Henry the Navigator) can be seen.