Horta Faial’s world-famous capital
Many consider Horta the most charming town of the Azores because of its cosmopolitan flair and its beautiful location, with its attractive town houses, churches and palaces lined up along a large bay, framed by the peninsula Monte da Guia in the south and the Ponta da Espalamaca in the north.
Especially popular with transatlantic sailors for whom it has become an absolute ‘must’ to make a stopover in Horta’s beautiful marina the first one in the Azores to be opened in 1986 and to leave a mark of their passage in form of some drawing or writing on the large, colourfully decorated jetty wall. Today, this popular marina receives an average of about 1,700 yachts per year! Obligatory routine to all new arrivals is a visit to Peter’s Café Sport, probably the most famous bar of the Atlantic, which is actually much more than a bar… it is a highly cherished institution with a very long tradition. Opened in 1918 with its azure-blue façade a colour that has become a tradition too this bar soon gained international fame as a meeting place where a very mixed clientele from all over the world gathers. On the first floor, this bar surprises its guests with a unique scrimshaw collection, displaying a myriad of works of art on whale teeth, the ivory of the sea.
The island’s economic growth and the resulting wealth during the 19th century was mainly the merit of the Dabney family, coming originally from America, with the first one of the clan, John Bass Dabney, settling already in 1804 in Horta. He became consul of the USA two years later. After having invested in the island’s main industries whaling, orange production and exportation, which were later replaced by pineapple and wine production it was also on this family’s initiative that Horta’s harbour was extended north of Monte Queimado in 1876. The Dabney family left Faial by the end of the 19th century, but one of the noble manor houses they inhabited, the Villa Cedars in the central Rua Consul Dabney, can still be seen today.
Horta’s economic and international importance during the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries still reflects in its rich architectural legacy, showing many different styles, among which colonial, American and even a kind of art-deco are particularly dominant, contributing to a large degree to this charming town’s unique cosmopolitan ambiance.