The Madeira Islands were formed by volcanic activity. There is an archipelago belonging to Portugal. These islands lie 360 miles west of Morocco and 540 miles from Lisbon in the Atlantic Ocean. Discovered by the Portuguese in 1419, this archipelago includes the largest and most populated island of Madeira, the Porto Santo Islands, and two uninhabited areas, the Selvagens and the Desertas, both of which are bird sanctuaries.
The wonderful climate of Madeira, with its low humidity and temperatures ranging from 61 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit, along with its scenic beauty, has made it a popular destination. This subtropical climate gives Madeira very mild winters and pleasantly warm summers. Madeira Island, at 740 square kilometers, is the group’s largest island. The rugged, mountainous rock gives Madeira’s coast steep gorges that run down to the ocean. Madeira is known for its high sea cliffs, such as Cabo Girao, the second highest sea cliff on Earth. Verdant, deep valleys make up the island’s interior.
A beautiful array of tropical fruits and flowers, the ocean and natural pools’ mild temperatures, luxurious hotels, a rich cultural heritage, and the cosmopolitan life of Funchal, with its discotheques, bars, and casinos, attracts many tourists. An international airport connects the continent and the main island. Madeira’s winding roads run among belvederes, trees, and waterfalls. If visited by ship, the island offers a magnificent view of mountainsides dropping straight off into valleys, terraces full of vegetation, and white houses scattered throughout the scene.
The capital city of Funchal is home to 100,000. A natural harbor, the city covers an ancient volcano’s slopes. Its narrow streets resemble those found in San Francisco.
Curral das Freiras lies in a crater made by a now-extinct volcano. The village lies in the deepest valley on the island, where the Santa Clara Convent of the 16th century can still be found. Here, nuns once hid from pirates who frequently pillaged Madeira.
Porto Moniz lies on Madeira’s rugged coast. It is known for its naturally-occurring pools inside volcanic reefs. From here, tourists can travel to Sao Vicente and drive alongside tunnels, abysses, and waterfalls on the way. Paul da Serra features 25 waterfalls. Of these waterfalls, the highest falls from 328 feet. The quaint village of Santana features cottages having pointy thatched roofs. Visitors to this village can take walking trips to Queimadas, Cova da Roda, and Pico Ruivo, the highest point in Madeira. Pico Ruivo reaches up to 6,118 feet and offers amazing views.
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