Installed on the ground floor, the Café Internacional has been, for many years, the meeting place of the Faial elites, working as a veritable living room for the officers of the various moored ships and for the most illustrious visitors. Among these were the foreigners who ensured the operation of the Submarine Telegraph Cables connecting the city of Horta to Europe and America. Small orchestras gave musical atmosphere to the Café, such as the D.A.T. (Deutsche Atlantische Telegraphengesellschaft) of the German Company, and the Orchestra of the renowned conductor Francisco Xavier Symaria.
Keeping faithful to tradition and its history, the International Café still breathes an air of “Belle Époque”. The meeting place was where representatives of the local bourgeoisie, including the highest public and military officials linked to the Estado Novo, fraternized there. Among them, stood out António Freitas Pimentel, doctor and governor of the district of Horta.
In an elitist environment, between the main room and the terrace, with wicker tables and chairs facing Largo Infante Dom Henrique, and with the island of Pico in front, the clients of the International surrendered to a mixture of intellectual indolence and conspiracy. That was where “secret agents” had been during World War II … The cabotelegrafistas knew and discussed what was happening on the fronts of this armed conflict. In “dry law” time, white wine was sipped in teacups … And the newspaper “The Telegraph” was read and played checkers and dominoes …
In the decoration of the Café, stand out for the art deco prints and for the marble table tops. On its walls, there is an old advertisement of “Macieira”, as well as a copy of a (daring) drawing by Almada Negreiros, which tells of an accomplice love between two soldiers during World War I.
With the 25 of April of 1974, the International Café “democratized” and, being today frequented by all the social classes, it continues being one of the references of Horta city.
A Building with History
This building, inaugurated on December 31, 1926 and located on the corner of Rua Conselheiro Medeiros and Largo Infante Dom Henrique (previously called Largo Neptuno), combines a sophisticated style with elements of “art deco” architecture.
This building was closely linked to the period of the “hydraviation”, and in the 30s of the 20th century it housed the office of the famous “Fabre Line”, a maritime shipping company, represented by the industrialist José Furtado Cardoso.
Due to its excellent geo-strategic location, Horta, a port city, was the scene of experimental and pioneering flights. Let’s see how, when and by whom.
On May 17, 1919, he tied the United States Navy’s “NC 4” seaplane under Captain Lieutenant Albert Read fied, to Horta Bay, which served as the first stage of the inaugural flight from Trepassey (Newfoundland) to Plymouth, England. Then followed in 1927 other heroic sea landings: the Italian Francesco de Pinedo, aboard the hydroplane “Santa Maria II”; the aviator Lilil Dillenz, an Austrian by birth, aboard the German hydro “Junker D 1230” and who would come to fraternize with another aviator arrived in Horta: the American Ruth Elder in his airplane “American Girl”, both having been targeted attention.
In 1928 it was the turn of the seaplane “G-CAJI” of the British Frank Courtney and, in that same year, the hydroplane “La Frégate”, of the Frenchman Paulin de Paris. Make sea landings at Horta bay a year later it would cause general astonishment the German seaplane “Dornier DO X” as well as the squadron planes headed by Italian Italo Balbo.
On June 4, 1930, the people from Faial were astonished to see the “Graf Zeppelin LZ127”, the giant German airship coming from the United States and flying the first aerial photograph of the city of Horta.
On November 21 of 1933 arrives at Horta, accompanied by his wife, Charles Lindbergh, the ace of aviation, in his “Lockheed Sirius, to evaluate the conditions of the bay of Horta for future Pan American transatlantic careers. The years 1936 and 1937 are marked by the powerful Lufthansa “Nordmeer”, “Nordwind” and “Nordstern” seaplanes that would be catapulted from Horta to New York.
On March 21, 1939, Pan American Airways began a regular career in seaplanes, the so-called clippers, which, until the end of 1945, had scaled Horta in a historic and spectacular way.
Along with all this, it should be borne in mind that Horta, the mooring point for submarine telegraph cables from the end of the 19th century, was used as a naval base during the two great World Wars. An impressive foreign community of Englishmen, Americans, Germans and Italians settled in Horta, leaving social, cultural and sporting influences.
Porto host, today Horta will no longer be “the largest small city in the world”, in the words of the poet Pedro da Silveira. But its Marina (inaugurated on June 3, 1986) is considered the first in Portugal, the second in Europe and the fourth in the world in terms of the movement of pleasure boats. For many it is the most international oceanic marina in the world. Around here sailors and sailors from all over the world (the yachtsmen) contribute, thus reinforcing a second moment of cosmopolitanism of the city.
Source of the text above: Café Internacional /Victor Rui Dores