As we continue our journey through Madera, our annual leave just doesn’t seem sufficient to cover all of the amazing places that need to be added to our bucket lists…
RIBEIRA BRAVA MUNICIPALITY
Ribeira Brava (which means wild stream) is a municipality on the southwest coast of the island and includes the parishes of Ribeira Brava, Campanário, Tabua and Serra de Água. Using the two-lane motorway, it is located about 20 minutes from the centre of Funchal. It has many street cafés and shops and is certainly a good place to spend a few hours taking in the sights and sounds.
One of the main events in the municipality are the St. Peter’s festivities, at the end of June, which give the streets a lively atmosphere, full of colour and music, and include a traditional folklore dance with swords.
The parish has made enormous progress in the last few years and has geared itself up to tourism. Many facilities keep the locals ‘local’, such as Madeira Sports Centre, a multipurpose complex with two football fields, an athletics track, a futsal field, tennis and paddleball and squash courts, as well as a covered sports field for basketball, handball and volleyball. The stadium holds over 2,300 people and is mostly used for football matches.
Besides this, the long sunshine hours on the west coast also attract many bathing fans, who choose the Ribeira Brava beach complex or Calhau da Lapa for a couple of hours of dolce far niente.
For amazing views over the valley of Ribeira Brava don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Encumeada viewpoint, from where you will also be able to see São Vicente, on the north coast.
Ribeira Brava was one of the first parishes of the island and was inhabited early in the island’s history. Writers think that its name came from the wild (Brava) river (Ribeira) that used to flow in this area and, when the rain falls heavily, occasionally it still does.
SÃO VICENTE MUNICIPALITY
Although considered a coastal village, São Vicente has progressed with time into the more sheltered hinterland.
At the edge of the village, directly next to the sea, lies a great boulder, into which the São Vicente chapel was built.
The council of São Vicente consists of the parishes of S. Vicente, Ponta Delgada and Boaventura. A trip through this council reveals a cultural patrimony left by all those who helped to enlarge these three parishes that it encompasses.
Most of the rustic manor houses go back to the XVIII century, a time of economic relief and comfort, due to the good fortunes of viticulture. These gigantic houses were very ostentatious and consisted of two levels: on the first floor the winepress, the agricultural implements and the products of the harvests were kept; the second floor was the noble part of the house and the access was made through an outdoor staircase.
PORTO SANTO ISLAND
Probably the last paradise island in Europe! João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira discovered the island of Porto Santo in 1418 during the reign of Dom João I of Portugal.
According to records the island was at first named ‘Holy Port’ by its discoverers as they found shelter here from a storm that was chasing them. Its first donee was Bartolomeu Perestrelo, appointed by Prince Henry the Navigator, who started with the first settlements. Then cattle breeding and the cultivation of cereals and vines were undertaken successfully, however the sugar cane cultivation did not find favourable conditions.
The discovery of this island was an important first step for other discoveries made later along the west African coast down to the Cape of Good Hope and from there to the East Indies and eventually Japan. Christopher Columbus, who was married in Porto Santo to Donna Filipa (daughter of the first donee Bartolomeu Perestrelo), lived on this island for some time. Situated in the northern hemisphere on the 32º latitude, its territory of about 42 square kilometres is almost completely covered with calcareous matter, especially on the northern side. It is secured on limestone, which is visible in several places. The island is adorned with peaks, almost all to the north, the highest of which is ‘Pico do Facho’.
Being one of the islands constituting the archipelago of Madeira, Porto Santo is amazingly different from the island of Madeira. Whilst lush green predominates in Madeira, Porto Santo is almost stripped of vegetation and the southern coast is bordered by a 9 km long beach of soft golden sand, which makes it a highly esteemed resort area.
Nowadays many tourists seek out Porto Santo to enjoy relaxing holidays as the island still maintains an air of tranquillity. Due to its isolation some of the good old-fashioned traditions of the first settlers could be kept. The moderate climate felt all year round is also a major attraction.
Tourism has given Porto Santo an economic dynamism, which has been growing year by year. The construction of its excellent airport in 1960, further expanded in 1973, was an important factor to the island’s economic and tourism expansion. The existing hotels provide a good accommodation standard and a wide range of outdoor leisure activities such as tennis, volleyball, windsurfing, island tours, among other activities.
The gastronomy, specialised in local dishes, can be enjoyed in several restaurants, from modern to typical, all of which allowing the visitor to make the dream of a perfect holiday come true.