Top 10 Madeira (Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guides)

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  • TT-Mad_028-029-MonteTG.indd 29 08/08/07 06:30:55 PM

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    29For more on the Quintas listed above See pp1415, 20, 245, 26, 27, 4445, 56, 59

    & Madeiran FloraTo the left of the main path is an area devoted to plants indigenous to Madeiras laurisilva forest (see p23), including the thornless Ilex perado (Madeiran holly) and Euphorbia piscatoria (known in Portuguese as Figuera do inferno the g from hell), whose poisonous sap was once used for stunning sh.

    * Limestone NativityOn the terrace above the lake, look for the 16th-century Nativity carved in ne-grained limestone by the Renaissance artist Jean de Rouen. The panels depicting shepherds and their ocks are especially charming.

    ( Tiles and SculptureThe terraces are also deco-rated with 17th- and 18th-century tile wainscots painted with cherubs and religious scenes, salvaged from demolished convents and chapels around Portugal. Note, too, the ne Ital -ian Romanesque well head, with its amusing motto, The more you give, the less you have to worry about!

    ) Japanese GardenGuarded by leonine marble temple dogs, the Japanese Gar-dens lush green vegetation con -trasts sharply with the bright red of the gardens bridges and tradi-tional Japanese archways.

    Monte PalaceMonte Palace was a more modest mansion in the 18th century, when the estate belonged to the English consul Charles Murray. Later expanded into a hotel, it now belongs to the Jos Berardo Foundation, an educational and environmental concern endowed by a Madeira-born entrepreneur who made his fortune extracting gold from mining waste in South Africa. The terraces around the house display ancient and modern sculptures, as well as peacocks and Ali Baba pots. d Camhino do Monte Map H5 291 782 339 Gardens: open 9:30am6pm daily. Admission 10 (under 15s free)

    Top 10 Other Quintas to Visit

    1 Quinta da Boa Vista2 Quinta do Bom Sucesso3 Quinta das Cruzes4 Quinta do Furo5 Quinta Jardins do

    Imperador6 Quinta Magnlia7 Quinta do Monte8 Quinta do Palheiro

    Ferreiro9 Quinta da Palmeira0 Quinta Vigia

    Monte Palace

    TT-Mad_028-029-MonteTG.indd 29 8/6/07 6:11:22 PM

  • TT-Mad_030-031-Curral.indd 30 8/6/07 6:12:21 PM

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    Curral das FreirasThe easiest way to get a feel for the sublime grandeur of Madeiras mountainous interior is to visit Curral das Freiras (Nuns Refuge), the hidden valley used as a hideaway by the nuns of Santa Clara Convent (see pp1617) whenever pirates attacked the island. (The same name is also given to the little village that now nestles there.) From such a beautiful spot, they must have returned to their city convent with a heavy heart. Visiting in 1825, H N Coleridge (the nephew of the English poet) described the Curral as one of the great sights of the world.

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    Top 10 Features

    1 EiradoSerrado2 Miradouro3 TheSublime4 ViewtotheEast5 ViewtotheNorth6 ViewtotheWest7 Footpath8 Road9 ChestnutWoods0 Village

    Nuns Valley Caf, Curral das Freiras

    At the Nuns Valley Caf, coffee is served on a terrace with spectacular views.

    Many tour companies in Funchal offer half-day trips to Curral das Freiras, often in combination with Monte (see p26) or Cmara de Lobos (see p75). Most of these trips go only as far as Eira do Serrado, the viewing point above the village.

    Curral das Freiras is on the route of Auto-carros da Camacha bus 81.

    Map G4

    !Eira do SerradoAdmiringthisvistafromEiradoSerrado (right)isasmuchapartofavisittoCurraldasFreirasasthedescentintothevillageitself.Thereisahotelandrestaurant,soifyoufallinlovewiththeromanticview,youcanstayforlunchordinner,orevenspendthenight (see p116).

    @MiradouroFromthecarparkinfrontofthehotel,ashortfootpathleadsuptoamira-douro,orviewingpoint (below),highabovetheSocorridosValley.Fromhere,thevillagefarbelowlookslikeShangri-LatheutopiaofJamesHiltonsnovelLost Horizon(1933).

    The SublimeTocatertothe18th-andearly19th-centurytasteforthesublimeinart,paintersofthetimevisitingMadeirawoulddeliberatelyexaggeratetheheightofmountainsandwaterfalls.

    $View to the EastBecauseofitscauldron-likeshape,earlyexplorers

    thoughttheCurraldasFreiras,withitsdramaticcliffsrisingsheertotheeast,wasacollapsedvol-cano.Infact,thecir-cularformispurelytheresultofmillionsofyearsofriverandrainerosion.

    TT-Mad_030-031-Curral.indd 30 8/6/07 6:12:37 PM

  • TT-Mad_030-031-Curral.indd 31 8/6/07 6:12:24 PM

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    Pirates Ahoy!Pirateswereaseriousmenaceintheearlyhis-toryofMadeira,whichiswhyFunchalhasnolessthanthreeforts.Theworstattackoccurredin1566,whentheFrenchpirateBer-tranddeMontluc,land-edatPraiaFormosawith1,000menandplunderedthecityschurchesandmansionsovera15-dayperiod,massacringallwhostoodintheirway.Montlucgainednothingfromhispiracy,ashediedfromawoundhereceivedintheattack.

    )VillageThecafownerswillurgeyoutotrytheirchestnutdishes(right)roastedsaltedchestnuts,richchestnutsoupandsweetchestnutcake.Sample,too,thedeliciouschestnutliqueurcastanha.

    (Chestnut WoodsThedescenttothevillagetakesyouthroughchestnutwoods(left).Thetreesbearwhite,sweetlyscentedflowerstemsinAugust,andproduceediblechestnutsinOctober.Lowerdown,thereisnaturallaurisilvaforest(see p23).InJune,lookoutforwildorchids.

    %View to the NorthTothenorthbeyondthevillage,aroadheadsupthevalley,currentlyendingjustafteritdisap-pearsfromview.Thereareplanstotunnelthroughtheislandsmountainouscentreandtaketheroadtothenorthcoast,endangeringthetranquillityoftheCurral.

    ^View to the WestTothewestisaserratedridgewiththreeprominentpeaks:PicodoCavalho,PicodoSerradhi-noand,highestofallat1,654m(5,427ft),PicoGrande.Beyond,thenextgreatvalleyrunsfromRibeiraBravatoSoVice-nteviatheEncumeadaPass(see p81).

    &FootpathToprolongyourvisittotheCurral,youcanwalkdowntothevillagealongthecobbledfoot-path(above)thatbeginsinthecarpark.Thepathhas52bends;atthebot-tom,turnrightandwalkuphilltothevillage.Youcanreturnbybus81.

    *RoadUntiltheroadwasbuiltin1959,theonlywayinandoutofthevalleywasthefootpath;buteventheroadislittlemorethanaledgecutintothecliffface,andwithtwostretchesoftunnel,itcannotcopewithbigtourbuses.

    TT-Mad_030-031-Curral.indd 31 8/6/07 6:12:38 PM

  • TT-Mad_032-033-Pico.indd 32 8/6/07 6:13:48 PM

    Buses do not go to the peak, but taxis will take you there and back for a fixed fee.

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    Pico do ArieiroMountaineering equipment is not needed to get to the top of Madeiras third highest peak, because a road takes you all the way from the bustle of Funchal to the silence of the summit in less than an hour. The mountain top provides a viewing platform from which to look out over the multiple peaks and ravines of the islands central mountains. Standing aloft here, you have a chance to study the astonishing range of rock formations left over from the violent volcanic upheavals that led to the creation of the island.

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    Top 10 Features

    1 EcologicalPark2IceHouse3SheepPens4 TrigPoint5Footpath6 Caf7 ViewtotheWest8 VolcanicDykes9 ViewtotheEast0 Wildlife

    The view from Pico do Arieiro

    There is a covenient caf at the summit.

    Pico do Arieiro can be wrapped in cloud for much of the day. The best times of day for fine weather are before 10am and after 5pm. Alterna-tively, you can take a chance on the clouds clearing for your visit. It is often possi-ble to drive up through the clouds and emerge to find the summit basking in sunshine.

    Even at the height of summer, it can be cold and windy at the summit, and in win-ter, ice and snow are common. It is best to take warm and water-proof clothing.

    Map G4

    ! Ecological ParkSome12km(7miles)outofFunchalonthedriveup,youpasstheentrancetotheEcologicalPark,whereprimevalforestisbeingrestored.Withitsviewingpointsandglades,itispopularforpicnics.

    @ Ice HouseThisigloo-shapedbuild-ing(above),2km(1mile)southofthepeak,iscalledPoodaNeve(SnowWell),andwasbuiltin1813byanItalianicecreammaker.Icefrompitslikethisoneprovidedwealthyhotelguestswithsnowwaterintheheatofsummer.

    Sheep PensLivestockhasbeenbannedfromtheEcologicalParktoallowMadeiranbil-berryandheathertothrive,butsheepandgoatsgrazearoundthesummitandtheircircularpensareseenhere.

    $ Trig PointAshortscrambleupfromthecafbringsyoutotheactualsummit,1,818m(5,965ft)abovesealevel.Itismarkedbyaconcretepostusedformeasuringalti-tudeandlocation(below).

    TT-Mad_032-033-Pico.indd 32 8/6/07 6:14:09 PM

  • TT-Mad_032-033-Pico.indd 33 8/6/07 6:13:56 PM

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    Island OriginsMadeiraslong,slowbirthbegan18millionyearsago,aslavaburstupthroughtheoceanfloortocreatelayeruponlayerofbasalticrock.Ittook15millionyearsforPicodoArieirotoreachitspresentheight.Foranother2.25millionyears,furthereruptionsspilledlavasidewaysfromtheislandscentralcore,creatingtheflatterplainsofthePaldaSerratothewestandSantodaSerratotheeast.Volcanicactivitydidnotfinallyceaseuntil6,450yearsago,whenthecavesatSoVicente (see p81)wereformed.

    ) WildlifeEvenonthebare,dryrocksofMadeirashighpeaks,plantsfindanichewhereveracrackpro-videsshelterandmois-ture.Amongthegorse (right)andheather,youcanspotgrasshoppersandthewell-camouflagednativegraylingbutterfly.

    * Volcanic DykesAnotherdistinctivefeatureoftheviewtothewestandsouthisaseriesofparallelgreyoutcrops,resemblingtheGreatWallofChina,thatfollowthecontoursofthelandscape.Theseare,infact,verticalseamsofhardvolcanicrockthathaveresistedtheerosiveforcesofrain,frostand

    ( View to the EastTheviewtotheeastlooksdownoverthegreenwoodedslopesoftheislandsindigenousforest(see p23).Onaclearday,itispossibletoseethemeadowland-scapeofSantodaSerra,andtheislandslongrockytail,thePontadeSoLoureno,curvingoffintothed