Porto Moniz

Porto Moniz

“This part of the Island is by nature rough and heavily wooded, so that its inhabitants have the alliance between the useful and the agreeable. (…) As can be easily concluded, this part of the island is no less enchanting than useful, for loneliness has its charms, proof of this being that the Madeirans from the south go there for recreation and to drink its delicious milk”.

Manuel Constantino, 16th cent

The municipality of Porto Moniz is made up of four parishes: Achadas da Cruz, Porto Moniz (municipal seat), Ribeira da Janela and Seixal. Despite its present designation, this area was at one time called Ponta do Tristão, the name being changed in 1533 to Porto Moniz, in honour of Francisco Moniz, a nobleman from the Algarve married to D. Filipa da Câmara, João Gonçalves Zarco’s granddaughter, and who was granted the lands that today make up the municipal seat.  Porto Moniz is one of the oldest parishes on the north side of the island (1574), being predominantly agricultural, especially in the production of horticultural products, as well as raising livestock.  It was only after World War II, when the road linking the municipality to São Vicente was built, that this municipality’s isolation from the rest of the island was broken.  This road was literally carved out of the rocky coastline, passing through various tunnels and crossed by waterfalls headed to sea. This road is considered one of the most beautiful and impressive of the island. A new and wider road was recently constructed, running parallel to the old roadway.
It is worthwhile to follow the route of the old road, which is open to one-way traffic going from São Vicente to Porto Moniz. 

Must-see places:
When you visit Porto Moniz, don’t skip the Aquarium of Madeira. The aquarium is located in a building that is a replica of the São João Baptista Fort, which was built on the same location to defend the local inhabitants from pirate attacks. At the aquarium, you will have the opportunity of seeing the diversity of species of marine fauna from the region.  The Living Science Centre, with its interactive exhibitions deserves to be visited, and is certainly a must-see.  The cable car at Achadas da Cruz is also a local attraction. Connecting Achadas da Cruz and the sea, it provides unforgettable scenic views.  Chão da Ribeira, located in a large valley overlooking the parish of Seixal, is surrounded by a rich variety of plants and bushes belonging to the Laurisilva.  The stream bed is filled with farm plots and their storage sheds, creating a truly rural scene.  The belvedere of “Véu da Noiva” receives its name from a waterfall that, because of its height and volume of water, reminds one of a bridal veil. This incredible manifestation of nature is found on the old road linking São Vicente to Seixal. 

In the municipality of Porto Moniz, handicrafts were a means of subsistence among the local people for many years. The spinning of flax and the manufacture of wickerwork at Achadas da Cruz have come down to our present day.

Nature and activities:
At Porto Moniz, the natural swimming pools are outstanding, carved out of the volcanic rock, and modified today for greater human comfort, and they still retain their original design, creating a view that is worthy of mention.  Between the verdant spaces of the municipality, there are some footpaths that reveal all the natural beauty of the municipality. In this regard, reference is made to the route from Lamaceiros to Galhano and back to Lamaceiros, in the area of Ribeira da Janela; the route from Fonte do Bispo to Lamaceiros; and the path that leaves from Faial and goes to Levada dos Cedros, covering approximately 6 km and taking about 3 hours to do.

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