The Madeira Island is situated on the Madeira Archipelago, located in the Atlantic Ocean at about 1000km distance from Continental Portugal. This archipelago is composed by the Madeira Island, by the Porto Santo Island, also known as the Golden Island, by the three uninhabitable Desert Islands and also by the natural reserve of the “Selvagens” (Wild) Islands.
This territory was once known by Romans and Phoenicians, yet the official discovery was in 1418, first with the Porto Santo island by the navigators João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira, and on the year after the Madeira Island, by João Gonçalves Zarco and Bartolomeu Perestrelo. The initial plan was about exploring the western coast of Africa, yet due to a storm, the navigators had to shove off the initial route, which lead them to discover the golden Porto Santo Island. The colonization started straight ahead, and century after century transformed this archipelago in one of the biggest Portuguese touristic spots.
The Madeira Island, which capital is the charming Funchal, is famous for its nice mild weather and sea temperature, where it seems to be spring all year long, and by its greenish vegetation. Madeira is known as the “Atlantic Pearl” or the “Atlantic Garden”, and is nowadays a tourist destination for the 12 months of the year.
The Laurissilva Forest, classified by UNESCO as a Mundial Natural Heritage, offers unique landscapes, with very high peaks and hidden ponds. The interesting “levadas” and “veredas” lead us through the ancient irrigation itineraries, built throughout the centuries in order to take advantage of this fertile soils with a difficult geography. These “levadas” are the best way to better know the amazing nature of Madeira and all its secrets and special places.
Nowadays, Madeira Island is very modernized, with good accesses, high quality services, the most diversified hotel and tourist offer, nevertheless being able to wisely maintain its traditional lifestyle and the great charm of being endowed, in its 728 square meters, with mountains, sea, mild weather, fertile soils and very fondles costumes and traditions, such as the famous “reveillon” that fills with animation and colour the astonishing Funchal bay or the colourful “bailinho da Madeira”, the typical folklore in a profusion of colour and joy, or even the flavour of the delicious “espetada”, with large pieces of beef on a laurel stick, the most typical dish in Madeira.