Madeira. An amazing little island lost in the Atlantic Ocean. Island of eternal spring. An island where there are no problems (at least, so the locals say). An island to which you want to return again and again.
Madeira,located 1000 km southwest of Lisbon and 700 km from the coast of Africa, due to which the island has approximately the same air temperature (19 degrees in winter and 22-25 in summer) and water (18-20) all year round. The archipelago of the same name includes the island of Porto Santo, as well as the uninhabited islands of Desertas (translated from Portuguese – “uninhabited”) and Selvagens (“wild”). Due to its exceptionally mild climate, tonic and rejuvenating, Madeira has received the name of the island of “eternal spring”. Despite its small size (22 km from north to south and 57 km from west to east), Madeira is surprisingly diverse. Alternating forested mountains and lush valleys offer breathtaking views. Since the island is of volcanic origin, the soil of Madeira is mainly composed of lava and ash, which, along with a favorable climate, creates a real subtropical paradise here. Bananas grow here right on the streets of the city, and the variety of flowering plants of various colors and shapes cannot but surprise. Orchids, calas, bougainvilleas, hydrangeas, magnolias and azaleas bloom here at any time of the year.
According to agooddir.com, the symbol of the island is the strelitzia flower, which looks like a big fantastic red bird. Every year in late April – early May, Madeira hosts a carnival of flowers – a holiday that attracts hundreds of tourists from all over the world to watch.
It is believed that the archipelago was discovered in 1418. Portuguese navigator Joao Goncalves Zarco, abandoned by a strong storm to the shores of the island of Porto Santo. However, only two years later the Portuguese returned to the archipelago and landed on Madeira, where they found impenetrable forests and fresh water. Gradually, the island was settled, and the inhabitants of Madeira began to cultivate the soil for the cultivation of sugar cane, which became the main income of the locals for many years. So on the slopes of the mountains of Madeira, fields-terraces were created, as well as irrigating canals – levadas descending the slopes of the mountains. Now walking trails have been laid along the levadas – for those who love outdoor activities and want to see the truly stunning landscapes of Madeira.
Now sugar is not produced in Madeira, but once it was the production of sugar that made possible the appearance of the famous Madeira wine, which glorified the island all over the world. Every year in September, the Grape Harvest Festival is held – an interesting and beautiful sight. The production of wine, bananas and exotic flowers now form the backbone of Madeira’s economy. More than 500 years of Madeira’s cultural and historical heritage is reflected in the numerous monuments that can be seen in the churches and museums of the island. In the past, many wealthy merchants donated magnificent paintings and other works of art to churches. On the island everywhere you can find the work of local craftsmen. The center of Madeira’s folk crafts is the town of Kamasha, where the famous wickerwork is produced.
Over time, Madeira has become one of the most popular resorts in Europe – thanks to the mild healing climate, exotic nature, excellent cuisine and the amazing hospitality of the locals.
The capital of the island – the city of Funchal – descends like a huge amphitheater from the mountain slopes to the shores of the majestic ocean. In the city itself, as well as in its environs, there are several magnificent botanical gardens, incl. orchid garden. You can take the funicular to the top of Mount Monte, which offers stunning views of the city and the ocean, and go down on a wicker sled, which for many years served as a common means of transportation for Madeirans. The local market, located in the city center, deserves special attention: here you will find the most exotic fruits, the most beautiful and unusual flowers. And opposite the market is another pride of Madeira – an embroidery factory. For many years, Madeiran embroiderers were considered among the most skilled in Europe, and their work adorned the homes and clothes of European royalty.
The West of Funchal is a tourist area where the best hotels are concentrated – mostly four and five star hotels.
Madeira is a true paradise for those who love hiking and enjoying beautiful scenery without suffering from unbearable heat, high humidity and biting insects. On the island you will find ample opportunities for practicing a wide variety of sports – from paragliding to rock climbing, mountain biking to horseback riding and tennis. For fans of golf in Madeira, two world-class courses are equipped. One of them, “Santo da Serra”, is located in a eucalyptus grove at an altitude of 700 meters above sea level.
And of course, Madeira is a major center for water sports. Having long gained popularity among lovers of water skiing, surfing and windsurfing, scuba diving, sailing, Madeira has also become a first-class international sport fishing center, where blue marlin up to 500 kg are often caught. In addition, the local waters are rich in different types of tuna.
The extraordinary beauty and almost pristine purity of the local nature is not the only wealth of Madeira. The abundance of tropical fruits is also impressive: bananas, passion fruit, mangoes, avocados, watermelons, as well as oranges and grapes grown on rich volcanic soils that require little or no chemical fertilizers.
This is also a rich selection of fresh fish and seafood – from crabs and a variety of shellfish to juicy tuna and the saber fish typical of Madeira cuisine.
This and the famous wines, known under the common name “Madeira”. Dry Sersial is a wonderful aperitif, semi-dry Verdelho, semi-sweet Bual – goes well with cheese; Malmsy is irreplaceable for dessert.
This is the excellent cuisine of Madeira with its famous “espetada”, i.e. shish kebab, which is roasted over a fire on laurel skewers and eaten with fragrant homemade bread and red wine.
10 minutes by plane from Madeira – and you are on the island of Porto Santo. At one time, even Columbus discovered that this cozy island is an ideal place to forget about everyday worries and problems for a while (he himself lived here for several years, marrying the daughter of a local governor).
A nine-kilometer strip of amazing beauty and rare cleanliness stretches along the coast. Their golden sand is famous for its healing properties. You can swim in the warm and calm waters of the Atlantic all year round.
The island has a dry and stable climate, which is characterized by slight seasonal temperature fluctuations.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find excellent opportunities for water sports here, and since the terrain is flatter on Porto Santo than on Madeira, many prefer cycling to any other means of transportation for a closer acquaintance with the island.