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Island of Madeira

The Madeira Archipelago is a Portuguese territory comprising a group of volcanic islands, of which Madeira and Porto Santo are inhabited, plus other islets called the Selvagens and the Desertas.

Lying some 700Km off the African coast, Madeira is approximately 1000Km from the Portuguese mainland and is the archipelago’s most populated island.

Perfect for a dream holiday, Madeira is a garden in the Atlantic and a select tourist destination.

Famous for its flowers, its wine, its embroideries and the hospitality of its people, this island promises natural beauty, wild scenic views, and the Laurissilva Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The courses of the “levadas” (the island’s irrigation canals), reveal to the attentive rambler, the heart pulsating in the island’s deepest interior of volcanic lava, where one can truly feel Nature.

The discovery of the island of Madeira, by the Portuguese crown, dates back to the XV century. To 1419 in fact, the year in which João Gonçalves Zarco, the captain of a maritime expedition to India, found himself obliged, because of a fierce storm, to alter his ship’s course.

Having landed on a beautiful island of golden sands, the seaman christened it Porto Santo (Holy Port or Holy Harbour) since it had saved their lives from the terrible storm.

From there they sighted a dark spot on the horizon which engendered in Zarco a desire to explore this new mystery. That came to pass in 1420, the year in which he landed on the island of Madeira and claimed it for the Portuguese crown. The island owes its name to the dense forest that covered it.