The Portuguese archipelago of Madeira is one of Europe's most popular tourist destinations thanks to its lush, rugged scenery and vibrant culture. Positioned off the northwest African coast, it has a subtropical climate that makes it warm and sunny enough for year-round visits, and there are plenty of attractions to keep you busy no matter which season you choose to visit. For those who love to lose themselves in history when they travel, we've rounded up the must-see sights for a historical holiday in Madeira.
How to enjoy a historical holiday to Madeira ?
1. Explore Funchal's museums
Madeira has a wide array of museums scattered across the island, with many of them situated in the capital city of Funchal. Funchal quickly became urbanised when settlement on the island began in the early 1400s. Its location made it an ideal site for a maritime port, and its fertile soils were appealing to settlers for growing produce.
The Madeira Story Centre is a fantastic spot to get an overview of Madeira's history right from the island's volcanic birth. Núcleo Museológico da Cidade do Açúcar-CMF (the Sugar Museum) is the best place to learn about Madeira's sugar industry which has played a huge role in the island's economy, society and culture. Since Madeira Wine is renowned all over the world, history buffs will also be keen to learn about this industry. Adegas de S. Francisco Madeira Wine Lodges feature cellars that date right back to the 17 th Century and display documents, books and machinery from these early days of wine production and export.
2. Visit the municipality of Santana
Santana sits on the northern coast of Madeira and it is best known for its traditional rural homes. The colourful dwellings are triangular in shape with thatched roofs, white walls, red doors and blue window trims. While most of the remaining houses are maintained as tourist attractions, they give a brilliant insight into the history of the island.
These traditional houses date right back to Madeira's discovery in 1419. Their unique shape was designed to help rainwater drain away, and the straw used to protect them was selected for its abundance in a region where cereal plantations thrived. The tiny dwellings feature a kitchen area and bedroom area on the ground floor and an attic for storing agricultural products.
3. Take the Funchal Cable Car to Monte
Monte is a small parish 6km away from the centre of Funchal and despite its modest size it is packed full of history. Situated in the hills amongst dense woodlands and with incredible views of the capital, Monte was once a health resort for Europe's elite. The parish is home to the Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte which opened in 1748 and holds the tomb of Emperor Charles I of Austria who exiled to Madeira during World War I.
You can reach Monte in just 15 minutes by taking the cable car from Funchal, a journey that offers incredible panoramic views. When you're ready to return to the capital, opt for the historic mode of transport by taking a traditional rattan toboggan which skids through the
steep streets for 2km and is a fun way to end a busy day in beautiful Monte. Madeira is the perfect destination for a holiday that blends incredible scenery, gorgeous weather and vibrant culture and history. Visit to satisfy your passion for history but be sure to soak in the views and enjoy the island's delicious food and drink along the way.
VISION Destinations | October 2022
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