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Madeira and Azores (Portugal) > Pictures and travelogues > Horta in the Azores

Pictures from Horta, Faial Island, and Hydrangea in the Azores.

Horta in Faial Island in the Azores
Horta in Faial Island in the Azores. The Horta Marina opened in 1986. It is a primary stop for yachts crossing the Atlantic.

With 15,629 inhabitants, Faial (173 km²) is the third most populous island of the Azores archipelago. It is situated only 6 km away from Pico Island. The islands of Faial, Pico and São Jorge form the so-called “Triangle' of the Azores. A ferry connects the port of Horta (the only city in Faial) to Madalena, the capital of the neighboring island of Pico. It provides passenger service only. Cars are not admitted. New infrastructure and new ships will improve the inter-island traffic as from 2014.

Faial is a tourist destination with several historical, natural and other attractions. The Faial Nature Park includes 13 protected areas. Faial is the starting point for diving, whale watching and swimming with dolphins in the Azores. 

Hydrangea macrophylla (Hortensia) in Faial Island, in the Azores
Hydrangea macrophylla (Hortensia) in Faial Island, in the Azores.

Faial (173 km²) is also known as Blue Island due to the large quantity of hydrangeas that bloom during the summer. Some species of hydrangeas can be blue, red, pink, or purple depending upon soil pH. An acidic soil (pH below 6) usually produces blue flowers. Other hydrangeas are white. In Faial, a profusion of hydrangeas brings to land the color of the sea during the summer.

The first official settlers of Faial Island, from Portugal and Flanders, arrived around 1465 as part of a failed expedition to find tin and silver ores. Two years later, Josse Van Huertere, a Flemish noble, returned to Faial attracted by the fertility of the soil and brought more people from Flanders to live in the Flamengos Valley before moving to Horta. During the 17th century, Horta became a stopover for boat trips between Europe and the Americas. During the 18th century, export of oranges became the main resource of the island. However, infesting diseases decimated the vineyards and the orange groves within one decade in the 19th century.

Faial Island gets a new function with the development of telecommunications. Starting in 1893, several submarine telecommunication cables between North America and Europe were successively installed via Faial. In addition, the Horta Weather Observatory opened in 1915. In 1957, the eruption of Capelinhos volcano caused severe damages and led about 2,000 people to emigrate.

In 1976, the Azores became an autonomous region of Portugal. Since then, the executive branch of the regional authority has been located in Ponta Delgada (São Miguel), the legislative branch in Horta (Faial), and the judicial branch in Angra do Heroísmo (Terceira).

Faial Island in the Azores.
Faial Island in the Azores.


 

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More pictures from the Azores
Find here many pieces of information and more pictures of Dirk Wuyts (ADC Scuba Diving Antwerp Club) about his trip to the Azores: Pico Island, Faial Island and several diving spots.

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Pictures from Horta, Faial Island, and Hydrangea in the Azores. Travel guide and directory to the Azores with many nice pictures.