The Valley of the Nuns, – Curral das Freiras – was my first escape from Funchal city, and my first meeting with the Madeira mountains, making this trip a really special one.
Here’s why I fell in love with this fantastic destination.
Deep in the valley is the village of the same name, which became a strategic refuge of nuns in the 16th century. For 100 days, the island was continuously attacked by pirates, especially focusing on the vulnerable, rich and open sea cities like Funchal. Curral das Freiras played a role of a hidden shelter and permanent refuge of nuns, as it considered a ‘secret place’ on the island. Indeed, the valley was inaccessible at that time, but provided fertile land for agriculture, sunlight and most important protection from invaders. The nuns lived in isolation for a very long period of time ‘disconnected’ from the modern world – they got TV signal only in the late 80s!
Nowadays, the Valley of the Nuns is one of the main tourist attractions of the island. Mainly for the spectacular views and chestnut cakes & liqueurs, but still having that charm of taking you back in time to when everything had a slow and healthy pace.
Getting back to the spectacular views…
For the less adventurous, it’s easy to sit and enjoy the peace and views for hours. I mean, this is all about the view.
Otherwise you can walk down to the village on a fantastic path, made mainly for hikers, and those who want an easy, fast access to the village. The walk takes around one hour, and the views are out of this world.
Once you get into the village, you can notice how special this is, although there isn’t much to do except enjoying an overpriced coffee and the famous chestnut cakes while waiting to get on the bus to return to Funchal. I heard that the best day to vist the valley is on a Sunday, when a nice local market takes place in the center of the village..
Like the title says, I felt like I landed on the moon. I could go on and on about why Curral das Freiras makes a great choice in your itinerary, but for now, I’m going to let the photos above do the convincing 🙂