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Madeira

Main attractions

Water supply channel in laurel forest, Madeira
Water supply channel in laurel forest / Jnvalves, / CC BY 2.0

Macaronesian islands - Azores, Canary Islands, Cabo Verde and Madeira - are like messengers from a better, brighter and more interesting world. Madeira represents almost all (without archaeological heritage which is present only in Canary Islands) of their beauty: mountains, beautiful scenery, subtropical forests and wealth of European architectural heritage. Most interesting landmark - or rather a complex of landmarks - is the unique forest in the central part of the largest island - world's largest laurel forest.

Natural landmarks

Véu da Noiva Falls, Madeira
Véu da Noiva Falls / Alexander Baxevanis, / CC BY 2.0

Waterfalls

  • 25 Fontes Falls - Porto Moniz. Group of waterfalls from springs, falling into a pool. Falls are up to 30 m high.
  • Caldeirão Verde - Santana. Some 100 m tall waterfall, sliding down along nearly vertical cliff.
  • Folhadal waterfall - São Vicente. Beautiful, nearly vertical waterfall high in the mountains, in pristine forest.
  • Risco Waterfall - Calheta. Approximately 100 m tall waterfall.
  • Véu da Noiva Falls (Seixal Waterfall) - Porto Moniz. Tall waterfall which falls along the steep seaside cliffs directly into the ocean. Wind often blows the falls sideways.
In laurel forest, Madeira
In laurel forest / Eric Zimmermann, / CC BY-SA 2.0

Ecosystems

  • Deserta Grande ecosystem - Santa Cruz. Small Desertas Islands have numerous unique species. On Deserta Grande lives the largest European tarantula - 4.5 cm long body as well as enormous carrot and 14 species of endemic snails in unusual colors.
  • Madeiran laurisilva. Unique, roughly 150 km² large subtropical humid forest, remnant of once widespread forests. The most impressive subtropical forest in Europe and largest laurisilva forest in the world, contains some 600 endemic species of plants and animals. Pristine forest is crossed by impressive, old waterways and pathways between villages.

Other natural landmarks

  • Cabo Girão - Câmara de Lobos and Quinta Grande. Prominent cliff face, rising up to 589 m high directly from the ocean. Cliff is some 3 km wide. At the foot of cliff in some places is narrow strip of land with terraced fields - Fajãs de Cabo Girão.
  • São Vicente Caves - São Vicente. More than 1,000 m long lava caves with some 700 m long trail for tourists. Caves include Volcano Centre - a visitor centre explaining the geological history of caves.
  • Til in Montado do Sabugal - Santana. Giant til tree (Ocotea foetens) with a height of 37 m and circumference of 13.80 m. In this location are some of the largest and oldest laurel trees.

Man made landmarks

Quebrada Nova fields from Achadas da Cruz cliff, Madeira
Quebrada Nova fields from Achadas da Cruz cliff / Hansueli Krapf, / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Cathedral of Funchal - Funchal. One of the oldest structures in Madeira, built in Gothic style in the 1490s - 1518.
  • Fort of Pico (Fortaleza de São João Baptista do Pico) - Funchal. One of the most impressive fortresses on the island, built to protect Madeira from pirates. Construction was started around 1601 and lasted until 1640. Impressive is the enormous water tank cut in the cliff.
  • Fort of São Tiago - Funchal. Well preserved fort which was built at the seaside in the 16th - 17th century.
  • House of Columbus in Vila Baleira - Porto Santo. A house where Christopher Columbus and his wife lived at the end of the 15th century, before Columbus discovered America. Now here is a musem.
  • Madeira Airport runway - Santa Cruz. One of the most daring airport structures in the world - a runway which is built partly on an artificial platform, rised on 180 columns which rise 70 m from the sea and also above a highway.
  • Quebrada Nova fields at Achadas da Cruz - Porto Moniz. Stone walled agricultural fields on a narrow land strip between 400 m tall cliffs and ocean.

List of described attractions by municipalities

Madeira is divided into 11 municipalities.

Calheta
ArrowRisco WaterfallWaterfalls
Câmara de Lobos
Funchal
Machico
Ponta do Sol
Porto Moniz
Porto Santo
Ribeira Brava
São Vicente
Santa Cruz
Santana

Map of Madeira

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