Faial Island, the Blue Island
Faial Island is a wonderful surprise for all who visit it. It is a natural paradise painted in blue. Not just due to several shades of blue that decorate the houses but also because of the countless hydrangeas blooming during the summer months.
The history of Faial Island
According to the opinion of the main historians Faial was discovered after Terceira. The first settlers came from Portugal and Flanders around 1465. It is believe that they named the island Faial due to the countless fire trees (Faias-da-Terra in Portuguese) existing on the land.
In 1468 a Flemish noble named Josse Van Huertere became the Island’s captain. He brought with them several settlers to live first in the Flamengos valley and then in Horta. These settlers were responsible for the growing of woad on Faial Island. Up until 1583 the island knew prosperity. However, during the Spanish occupation, the wealth and heritage of Terceira Island was squandered by corsairs’ attacks. This troubled period was worsened by the 1672-73 volcanic eruption. The northwest of Faial Island was devastated.
With the Restoration Faial entered a new period of development. The natural conditions of Faial harbor elected it as a privileged navigational stopover between Europe and America. By those days the main exports to Continental Portugal and other European destinations were wine and spirits. By the 18th century occurred the development of whale hunting. Several whaling fleets came to Horta city. By then also come the oranges, which become the main source of income of the Faial Island. However the vineyards and the orange groves were destroyed by infesting diseases. Faial Island was saved by its geographic position, as it became the most important telecommunications centre between North America and Europe. The communication was done submarine cables that passed by the Island, namely by Horta city. The opening of the Horta Weather Observatory in 1915 also promoted the economy of the Island.
Faial Island geographic location played once more an important role during the first time of the aviation. The Island was the stopover of the first planes that crossed the North Atlantic until the 40s.
Since the 19th century Horta has been one of the most important sea ports. Its marina has been a meeting point for sailors from all over the world since its opening in 1986. Many of them elect the famed Peter’s Café as their home away from home.
Photo by Galeria de Ulrich Thumult
In 1957 Faial Island was shaken by the volcanic eruption from the Ilhéu dos Capelinhos. The eruption projected such an amount of lava and ash that created an islet. Later this islet became linked to Faial by an isthmus.