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  • Mar8

    Madeira's Hidden Valley

    March 8, 2019 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    It’s hard to believe that such a small island can be so full of amazing views and yet once again, we were slack-jawed by the sight we saw today, in the middle (bellybutton) of the island.

    Before we came to Madeira I had read an interesting story about a hidden valley in the mountains just north of Funchal. In 1566, a group of nuns from the Santa Clara convent fled from Moorish pirates who were attacking Funchal over an extended time, and hid in this valley with other women and children. The nuns also brought their convent treasure here and lived in this area in isolation. The only connection to the outer world was a winding footpath along the steep mountain face. Eventually the nuns left but the village remained remote until a road was built to it in 1959.

    The valley that they lived in is called the Curral das Freiras, or Corral of the Nuns and we heard that it was pretty spectacular.

    Since today is our last full day on Madeira Island, we decided to take a drive to this valley to see for ourselves how spectacular it is.

    The road to the valley is a bit of a nail biter. It is very windy, very narrow and the sides drop off steeply. At points we saw guard rails that had been run into. On our way up to a viewing point, a bus came around a corner and Chris had to back up. We both didn’t fit. The road builders had wisely added a few fatter sections in the road for this purpose. It was pretty hard for Chris to keep his eyes on the road because of the out of the world views but he kindly did, as a favour to me.

    It was a beautiful drive though through giant eucalyptus trees, chestnut trees and spring flowers. But the best was yet to come - the amazing view of the village from the mirador, Eira do Serrado, 1094 m above sea level!

    Note - None of the photos we took, were taken from a plane. We were on a walkway on the side of the mountain.
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