About Madeira

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Madeira

Madeira, a portuguese archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, exists out of 3 different parts: Ilhas Desertas (Uninhabited nature reserve), Porto Santo ( can be reached from Madeira by ferry) and of course Madeira.

Despite the limited measurements of appr. 40 x 13 miles the island seems much larger due to its mounty terrain. Madeira is also known as a floating garden and pearl of the Atlantic. Because of the mild and sub-tropical climate everything grows and flourishes here on Madeira. The whole island is green throughout the year, although rainfall is limited on the southern parts. One of the reasons are the "levadas", small irrigation canals, which bring the water from the northern to the dryer southern part of the island. Many of these levadas are hundreds of years old and constructed at the time of slavery. Often you will find walking paths alongside the levada for maintainance use to the canals and to gain access to the small terraces where the locals still grow their own vegetablas and fruit. Most of these paths are very suitable for making walks.

What is typical Madeira?

The breathtaking nature and the rugged landscape mixed with the mild climate, makes Madeira an excellent holiday destination the whole year around.

The island is known for its steep cliffs and spectaculir views. The "flatter' part of the Madeira is situated on the plateau of Paśl da Serra at an altitude of aprox. 3500 feet. The highest point on Madeira is Pico Ruivo, with an altitude of about 6.000 feet en the walk towards it is breathtaking.

On Madeira you will encounter numerous vineyards situated on seemingly inaccessable slopes. The grapes are used to make the famous madeira wines but are also used by the locals to produce their own wine. Banana trees are widely spread upto an altitude of 1300 feet and are harvested throughout the year. Together with the madeira wines these are the main export products of Madeira.

Another specific subject on Madeira are the "levadas", irrigation canals which also can be used for hiking. They have an overall length of more than 1.300 miles!

Foodwise Madeira has a lot to offer as well. One of their specialties is "espada", a black scabbard fish, only to be found in the waters around the island and a real must for those who love fish. Usually it is served with banana and cooked in the banana leaf. The fish are caught at a depth of 3.000 feet by little boats you can encounter at the shore. For those who love meat the "espetada" is a good alternative. It is a beef skewer, on a stick of laurel, seasoned with seasalt, garlic and fresh laurel leaves and prepared above a fire. Due to the sub-tropical climate there is always an abundance of fresh tropical fruits. A visit to the "mercado dos lavradores" in Funchal is certainly worth a visit. This is the main fruit and fish market on Madeira.

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