The Azores: The incredible “sea art” of Horta on Faial

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“Sea art” at the harbour of Horta on Faial, Azores / photo:

I have wanted to do this post ever since I had the pleasure of visiting the town of Horta on the island of Faial – one of the 9 exotic islands that make up the Azores as a part of Portugal. It was a couple of years ago, and this particular travel memory has stayed with me as I love both travelling and urban art.

Looking at the map, these volcanic islands seem to “float” around in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean where they live life rather disconnected from the European mainland.

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You can spend a whole day exploring the marina of Horta / photo:

Due to their location, the Azores have historically functioned as a strategic stopover for boats and ships looking to cross the Atlantic.

This has left the harbour of Horta with a colourful and adventure-inspiring tradition of “sea art” – like street art, but painted on the directly on the marina and on the concrete walls surrounding it. Thousands of unique little art pieces as some sort of “postcards” and “stamps” from all the sailors and travellers passing through here. It’s truly an incredible sight!

Therefore, I was really excited to get the chance to explore and photograph these pieces, which was like browsing through a gigantic guest book for Horta. I took a special interest in searching for pieces done by fellow Danes and managed to find quite a few.

The “sea art” pieces you will find in Horta often include these elements:
– The year of the visit to Horta or several years indicating the number of returns
– Names of members of the crew/family members
– A flag and/or name of the country of origin
– A map of the boat’s current journey
– A logo for the journey or the boat – or a drawing of the boat
– A list of places the boat has visited on its current trip or all time

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Endless little art pieces left behind by sailors / photo:

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The marina is covered in fresh and faded “check-ins” from sailors / photo:

The painting style goes from very simple to skilful art, but they’re all part of this adventurous collection of check-ins at Horta. Some faded from years of wear, some freshly painted from recent visits.

Take a look at the selection below of some of my favourites during my visit, and be sure not to miss this experience if you do your own island-hopping around the Azores. Also, do not miss out on a visit to Peter Café Sport near the marina of Horta, which is an iconic bar full of memories from sailors passing through.

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Peter Café Sport is an iconic bar in Horta / photo:

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Inside, Peter Café Sport is covered in memories from the seas / photo:

P.S. I would love to hear from you if you by coincidence come across your own art piece in this selection. Please write in the comments below…

SEE ALSO: Ponta Delgada will surprise street art lovers on the island of São Miguel

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A piece by fellow Danes navigating the seas on ‘Naveren’ / photo:

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One of the more eye-catching pieces / photo:

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These guys visited Horta in 2018 / photo:

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Nice artsy piece from the Wayward Wind / / photo:

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A classic sailor piece with lots of details and crew names / photo:

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Nice 3D-looking piece from 2015 / photo:

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Svendborg is a city on my Danish home-island of Fyn / photo:

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This entry from Switzerland is paw-some! / photo:

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Another Danish piece… looks like this crew returned many times / photo:

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An entry from Wales naturally featuring the Welsh dragon / photo:

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From Bernuda to the Azores. Doesn’t get much more exotic! / photo:

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Apparently, some Danish Vikings came by Horta in 2009 / photo:

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I like the fish / photo:

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Foxy lady had an artsy crew in 2017 / photo:

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I love the 3D-effect of this colourful piece / photo:

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A whale tail connects well with the Azores known for whale watching / photo:

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Nice shades from this Canadian crew / photo:

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Looks like the Swedish TooTiki-15 had a large crew / photo:

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Cool cartoonish piece by the crew of Syllogic / photo:

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Nice detail with the penguin onboard Beduin / photo:

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Guess their dog added the paw-prints 🙂 / photo:

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Nice clean piece by the crew of Odyssey from Key West / photo:

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Simple but lovely entry by this German family of Eleonore / photo:

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Dramatic, whale-filled waters below Tyrian of Truro / photo:

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This French entry even came with a website / photo:

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A fishy piece from Kandor in 2018 / photo:

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I like the airy and smooth style of this piece / photo:

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6 visits and counting by the German ship Roald Amundsen / photo:

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Piranha? No, a swordfish by SY Magellan from Switzerland / photo:

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A proper sailor piece with plenty of flags / photo:

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A Dutch dolphin? Nice one! / photo:

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A route map from the High Seas High School / photo:

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I like the simplicity of this piece from Canada / photo:

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They’ve left plenty more space for future visits / photo:

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Skilful art by ‘Go with the flow’ in 2018 / photo:

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What a journey! / photo:

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And many, many more… / photo:


By Brian Schæfer Dreyer