Boutique & Romantic Hotels in Madeira & Porto Santo, Portugal
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Madeira & Porto Santo
Madeira’s legendary beauty and exceptional climate have long made this small Atlantic island a popular tourist destination.
Strictly speaking, the “Pearl of the Atlantic” is actually an archipelago made up of four islands: Madeira itself, the smaller Porto Santo, plus two uninhabited islands with the apt titles of Desertas (Deserted) and Selvagens (Wild), the latter two being important bird sanctuaries.
As for the Main Island, spectacular mountain scenery, sub-tropical forests and exotic vegetation combine with a rich historic patrimony and climate to offer travellers a year round holiday destination par excellence.
The island is also home to one of the world’s great beverages – Madeira wine, a fortified wine produced from the vineyards planted in the volcanic hills of the island.
Romantic Towns The capital Funchal lays claim to being the island’s most monumentally impressive town. Manor houses and gardens go hand in hand with a profusion of religious building, which include the 15th century cathedral, the Santa Clara Convent (15th century) and numerous churches from the 15th to the 18th century, thus making Funchal an attractive city to visit in its own right. Other interesting architecture takes in the Customs building and Fortress-palace of Saint Laurence (both 16th century).
History The Madeira archipelago was discovered in 1419 by the Portuguese navigators, João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira after having been fortuitously blown off course on their voyage around the African coast.
On reporting their unexpected prize to Prince Henry the Navigator they were immediately ordered to return and colonise the island, and the name Madeira (Portuguese for wood) stuck due to its wide forests and dense vegetation.
By the 18th century, British merchants had firmly established themselves in Madeira and gradually took control of the islands linen, wine, finance (banks), exportation and tourism industries.
Nowadays, Madeira’s main source stems from wine production and tourism.
Culture - Festivities The people of Madeira certainly know how to organise a festival. Some of the best include the Flower festival (June, Funchal), São Pedro celebrations (June, Ribeira Brava), Nossa Senhora do Monte Festivities, (Terreiro da Luta, August) and the São Silvestre. The latter takes place on New Years Eve in Funchal and its riotous celebrations has turned Madeira into one of the hot spots to be on the 31st of December.
Handicrafts The history of Madeira handicrafts takes in a number of long established crafts. Embroideries and tapestries, for example, date back to the 19th century. Wickerwork, which still has a thriving local industry to this day, is based on Madeira willow, which grows easily on the island and has excellent qualities. Objects are often crafted in elaborate patterns with anything part of the body artisans have free to tie with, including feet or even teeth.
Monuments The capital Funchal lays claim to being the island’s most monumentally impressive town. Manor houses and gardens go hand in hand with a profusion of religious building, which include the 15th century cathedral, the Santa Clara Convent (15th century) and numerous churches from the 15th to the 18th century, thus making Funchal an attractive city to visit in its own right. Other interesting architecture takes in the Customs building and Fortress-palace of Saint Laurence (both 16th century).
Gastronomy Food and drink wise, Madeira is best known around the world for its fortified wine, which along with Port make up two of Portugal’s best-known (and most delicious) products. Yet Madeira also has a strong gastronomic tradition.
“Chefs” are proud to prepare their “carne de vinho e alhos”, pork seasoned with wine and garlic, or, the “cozido Madeirense”, a delicious stew with pork, chicken, meat, vegetables, rice and other ingredients.
Those with a sweet tooth have much to enjoy, including Honey Cake, typical at Christmas, which is made of sugar cane molasses and is hand cut. Madeira is also rich in tropical fruits, such as banana, sweetsop, passion fruit, papaya, and avocado pear, amongst others. Activities Trekking It is generally acknowledged that Madeira is one of the best places for trekking.
The climate, landscape and “levadas” (the unique irrigation canals that offer the chance of trekking everywhere on the island) are just some of the reasons. Madeira is also walkable all year round - never too hot or too cold and the scenery is wonderful, taking in a vast panorama of vegetation, fauna, tunnels and gorges.
Golf Madeira offers 45 holes of championship golf divided between two courses, both of which are remarkable for their scenic beauty – Palheiro Golf Club (www.palheirogolf.com) and Clube de Golfe Santa Serra (www.santodaserragolf.com).
The island plays host to the P.G.A. European Tour every spring, when the Madeira Island Open takes place at Santo da Serra Golf Club. Deepsea Fishing Madeira is a premiere fishing location, with its waters home to a wide variety of species, many of which are seasonal. These include white marlin, tunas, amberjacks and spearfish.
Bigger varieties include the shark, with the best time for fishing these fine specimens generally from September and December. Travel Info Madeira is a small island and travelling by car can be a fun and relaxing way to get to know the island.
Ferry services from Madeira to the small sister island of Porto Santo takes around 2 1/2 hours depending on weather conditions.
Romantic Hotels in Madeira & Porto Santo
- Casa Papagaio
- Choupana Hills
- Estalagem da Ponta do Sol
- Hotel The Vine
- Quinta da Bela Vista
- Quinta Jardins do Lago
- Summerplace Guesthouse
Romantic & boutique hotels by city in Madeira & Porto Santo
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