Faial

Heritage

Architecture

The amphitheatre made by the bays of Horta and Porto Pim, surrounded by houses and others buildings from the Horta city, has exceptional lookouts at the hill of Monte da Guia and at Ponta da Espalamaca. Among the buildings, the imposing São Salvador Church stands out, with its rich, golden wood interior and panels of tiles. The architecture of the houses reveals the international spirit of the island. The samples of this centuries-old cosmopolitanism are enriched by the buildings and homes built during the 20th century to accommodate the English, German and Americans who worked at the submarine cable stations. The eclectic atmosphere is still felt in Horta, and the mythical Peter Café Sport is a meeting place for sailors and travellers coming from all over the world.

The tanglement of streets and alleys runs down from the slopes until reaching the sea level at the seaside avenue and at the marina of Horta. This nautical infrastructure, which opened in 1986, is a modern extension of a port and bay with a centuries-old importance. It is traditional for yachtsmen to leave a painting on the grey concrete walls. According to legend, this act will safely lead the boat to its destination, and thus sailors can continue their trip with a sense of accomplishment. On the other hand, those arriving at the marina are faced with an open-air art gallery; the whole world fits in the breakwater of an Azorean harbour, represented by creative and colourful paintings and drawings.

Culture

Although no one is quite sure where Manuel de Arriaga was born, it is certain that he came from an aristocratic family from Horta. He studied Law in Coimbra, and later he stood out as a politician and one of the main ideologists of the Republican Party. In 1911, this Azorean lawyer was elected the first President of the Portuguese Republic.

Part of the history of Faial can be witnessed at the Museu da Horta (Horta Museum), installed in the old Jesuit College, storing collections of documents, ethnography, photography and art. In the old site of the Fábrica da Baleia of Porto Pim (Porto Pim Whaling Factory), there is presently a museum section with exhibitions of machinery and other instruments that were used in whale hunting and processing. Anchored in the Peter Café Sport, the Scrimshaw Museum stores a precious collection of sperm whale teeth and bones with engravings and paintings. These are the witnesses of the times when the whales were a source of income for countless families living in the archipelago and a source of inspiration for the local artisans.

Handicrafts

The handicrafts of Faial made from fig tree pith are so famous that the Horta Museum has an entire room completely filled with the works of Euclides Rosa, the great master of this art. The motifs of the delicate pieces are varied, raging from flowers to ships, animals and well known buildings. At the Escola de Artesanato do Capelo (Capelo Handicrafts School), the talent of local artisans is preserved and encouraged as they do flower arrangements from fish scales or wheat straw embroideries on tulle.

 

 

Highlights