The Island of Madeira (the Wood Island) is situated geographically nearer to Africa than to Europe. In fact it is only 500 km. from Moroccan coast and 900 km. from the Portuguese motherland.
The 270.000 inhabitants live in a surface of 741 sq. km. and almost half of them in the capital area: Funchal.
Madeira is a verdant oasis in the Atlantic, an efflorescent green island privileged by a very mild climate. For this Madeira has been included in the UNESCO list of World Natural Heritage since 1999.
It has an extensive network of paths the “levadas” (walking trails) ranging from different grades: Easy – Moderate – Difficult depending on your ability and strength. They much differ one from another and without too much change in elevation you can easily discover some of the remotest corners of Madeira. Walking in Madeira is ideal all year around. Summer months are not all that hot and winter months are mild. The Miradouros offer you spectacular stunning views!!!
One of Madeira tourist attraction is its diverse vegetation. About 140 of the roughly 760 plants species growing wild on the island are endemic, means they grow only in Madeira and nowhere else in the world.
One of these is the so called “Pride of Madeira”, a type of Echium that produces a lovely candle-like blossom mauve-blu color.
Madeira owes its reputation as the floating garden; much ornamental flora has been introduced from around the world. Plants like Lilly of the Nile, Buganvillea, Hibiscus, Birds of Paradise, grow all along the roads. The latter also called “Parrot flower” has become the botanical symbol of Madeira.
Funchal is the Capital, a city 500 year old, nestled in a great natural amphitheater facing the Atlantic. Funchal is a city of flowers, lively and festive.
It was founded by Zarco, one of the discoverers of Madeira in a place where it grew abundant the wild fennel, called “Funcho” in Portuguese language, hence its name FUNCHAL.
Typical are the old area of Funchal, most popular and lively, a maze of narrow cobbled streets animated by typical restaurants, shops and old houses with beautiful painted doors.
The “Mercado dos Lavradores” (workers market) lively with its colorful stalls of fruit and flowers, attracts many tourists.
Don’t miss a visit to the Monte. A trip by cable car, an ultra scenic tour, until you reach the location situated at 600 mt. above sea level, in the back of Funchal.
Nossa Senhora do Monte, the patron saint of Madeira, is a place of pilgrimage for the inhabitants of Funchal, and the statue of the Vergin, which dates back to 400, is subject of great devotion.
If the cable car to Monte was much exciting, no less it will be a second cable car that connects Monte to the Botanical Garden with a scenic route of 9 minutes over Funchal bay and the verdant Vale do Ribeira.
The Botanical Garden, besides having a beautiful view over the city, has an exceptional variety of plants and flowers from all around the world, arranged in terraces with impressive geometric designs.
But the Island of Madeira needs to be explored as every corner offers surprises and emotions. There are many beautiful costal villages with their beaches, ports, fishermen and everyday life. There are many holiday amenities where you can stop for days, good restaurants for lunch or snacks or for just a cup of coffee.
We were attracted by Machico, a pleasant small village, 16 km. from Funchal, and here we choose a lovely hotel sea view for our 10 days wander around the island.
Machico owes its name to a legend (or probably reality). It is said that in the middle of year 300 a strong storm forced an English vessel to land on these shores. On board were two young lovers, Robert Machim and Anne d’Arset, who escaped from Bristol to get married. But the two lovers died shipwrecked. Their fellow sailors bury them there and soon left the island. But while on sail they are captured by pirates and taken to Morocco. Under torture they recount their adventure and the news of this mysterious island reaches the ears of Henry the Navigator who immediately prepares an expedition to find it. When he arrives and lands in Madeira he finds, under a cedar tree, the tomb and the cross with the names of the two lovers. He then decides to name this place Machim (as the he-lover English name), then changed to Machico.
Madeira is an island which has much to offer, under many aspects: the cultural aspect, nature and botanical aspect, beaches where to relax and enjoy many sea sport activities. good food and …. why not the Madeira wine! But my last thought and appreciation goes to the Madeira inhabitants: gentle, friendly and much hospitable!