History of Curral das Freiras

History of Curral das Freiras

The name Curral das Freiras (nun’s pen) originated from a curious situation. It was given, it is believed, around 1560, at a time the place served as refuge to the nuns of Santa Clara convent, in Funchal. The nuns, running away from the Lutheran pirates that invaded the island and plundered the city of Funchal, found in this place hidden by the mountains, the ideal sheltering place.

Also worth of mention is the fact that the connection of the nuns to the parish goes back to the end of the 15th century, when the place was sold to João Gonçalves da Câmara.In turn, it was donated in to Santa Clara convent, as a dowry for his daughters, Elvira and Joana who taught there.

The settlement of Curral das Freiras only took place years later. From being a hiding place for running slaves and outlaws, a small population core is established. From then on, little by little, the civil parish started to grow.

In the beginning of the settlement, Curral das Freiras was called Curral (pen) or Curral da Serra (mountain pen), since it was solely used as grazing ground. At that time, is was solely attended by shepherds.

The fact that Curral das Freiras is more protected and of difficult access is due to the fact that it is one of the few places in the island that cannot be seen from the sea. Still today, even by car, the only access is through a long winding road.

In catering terms, one would like to point out the use of the chestnut, the most typical production of the place, namely in preparing chestnut soup.

It is precisely to take advantage of the typical chestnut production that in the 1980s the “Festa da Castanha” (chestnut feast) was introduced, taking place once a year, on November 1. This festivity tries to serve as a vehicle to make this civil parish, its activities and its productions known to the world.

The “Semana do Turista” (tourist week) and “Cantar dos Reis” (singing of kings), are also other high moments in the parish.

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