Santana, Madeira

« small town in the north of the island »

Santana is a very famous place in Madeira. Thanks to, or because of, its typical thatched houses, the last ones on the island. It is one of the symbols of the island, and Santana is a place known mainly for this, just as Porto Moniz is known for its natural pools. Find out in this article everything there is to know about Santana, located in the North of Madeira.

More about the city

Santana is the capital of 6 small villages, with a total population of about 9000 inhabitants, of which just over 3000 live in the town of Santana itself:

  • Arco de São Jorge
  • Faial
  • Ilha
  • Santana
  • São Jorge
  • São Roque do Faial

Located in the north of the island, Santana owes its name to Santa Ana, the patron saint of the city and was founded in the mid-16th century. The Santana region was declared a biosphere reserve by unesco in 2011. The steep and very mountainous terrain of Queimadas Park is home to incredible flora and fauna in the laurel forest, and the reserve extends to the marine area of the ocean.

Thatched houses

They are called "palheiros", typical Madeiran houses built in the 16th century. They are recognizable by their thatched roofs that go down almost to the ground. Sort of thatched cottages that the locals call "casas de colmo". Nowadays, only a few thatched houses remain in Santana. They have become a postcard image, inseparable from Madeira. Today, the few existing thatched houses are obviously no longer inhabited: they house small craft businesses, including a flower shop: casas das flores, or the town's tourist office. Every year they welcome the many tourists who come to discover these typical Madeiran houses. You can discover several of them in the centre of Santana.

The thatched houses of Santana, Madeira
« The thatched houses of Santana, Madeira © Pixabay Arvido »

Making the trip just to see these small houses and take a souvenir photo may seem disappointing to many tourists. We advise you not to make the trip on purpose. The visit of these triangular houses is free, however you will be welcomed by local craftsmen and traders, so it will be difficult not to spend anything.

If you want to discover other typical Madeira houses, there are some in other streets of Santana. For this, I particularly recommend the street that goes down to the cable car.

There are other thatched houses (especially in Queimadas Park, see PR9 hike below), but these houses do not have this triangular architecture.

What else to do in Santana?

Madeira Theme Park

The little known Madeira Theme Park is located a few steps away from the thatched houses. Here you can learn more about Madeira's traditions, including the famous wooden sledges of the Monte district in Funchal. With many activities, it is mainly aimed at a family audience, with multimedia workshops, a small pond to cross in a boat and playgrounds. Not essential, the "Parque Temático da Madeira" can nevertheless be a fun stop for children and parents curious to learn more about Madeira's history.

The Rocha do Navio Cable Car

The cable car takes you to the Rocha do Navio nature reserve at the foot of the cliffs and on the edge of the ocean. You can see this area from above, from the cable car, via the miradouro da Rocha do Navio. You will be able to see some of the houses used during the grape harvest period, and further away the Rocha do Navio island and the Ponta do Clérigo point. If you are afraid of heights, you can access this protected area by the small path called Vereda da Rocha do Navio. Below, you should be able to see some waterfalls from the Ribeira dos Pregos and Ribeira de Santo Antonio rivers, in addition to the cultivated area of chao da racho.

La réserve da Rocha do Navio
« La réserve da Rocha do Navio, vue depuis l'entrée du téléphérique© Valerie Hukalo - flickr - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 »

The miradouro do Cortado

An exceptional viewpoint at the entrance of Santana, it makes you discover the village of Faïal with as background Pehna de Agua: the rock of the eagle, an enormous volcanic rock.

Visit the church of Santana

If you want to discover Madeira's heritage, make a small diversions to Santana Church. Despite its simplicity, its golden altar is beautiful.

What to do around the town?

Santana is a place of passage for accessing the starting point of two Madeira PR® hikes:

PR9 - Levada del Caldeirão Verde

If you want to discover this incredible primary forest protected by Unesco, the Green Cauldron walk is the one to do. The levada takes you to the heart of the laurissilva forest, in the Queimadas Park, with many waterfalls to be seen. You can reach the start of the PR9 levada via the Caminho das Queimadas road from Santana. At the starting point there are two typical Madeiran thatched houses.

Caldeira Verde walk, MadeiraPR1 Pico Ruivo hike from Achada do Teixeira
« Caldeirao Verde and Pico Ruivo, 2 very different hikes near Santana © Valerie Hukalo - flickr - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 »

PR1 - Vereda do Pico Ruivo

One of the great classics to do in Madeira: the ascent of Pico Ruivo by the PR1 route from the Achada do Teixeira car park. To do this you have to take the ER218 road that starts in Santana. A long climb by car that takes you to an altitude of 1592 metres. There will be just under 300 metres of ascent to reach the roof of Madeira Island!

Other walks from Santana:

Two other fairly well known hikes are possible from Santana: Camino Real 24, and the Levada de Santana (also called Levada da Silveira). The Camino Real 24 connects Santana to Funchal. A hike of more than 30 kilometres that connects the south and north of the island and therefore crosses Madeira on foot. It is a demanding walk with a very large positive and negative difference in altitude.

Other walks around the village:

A little further west, towards São Jorge, the levada do Rei Bonito PR18, as well as the PR1.1 Vereda da Ilha are possible. To the east, the Vereda da Penha D'Aguia hike is possible between Faïal and Porto da Cruz, as is the very long Levada do Castelejo.

Carte interactive de Santana, Madeira

Légende de la carte :

------ parc thématique de Madère ------ Téléphérique da Rocha do Navio
Piscine naturelle
Musées et visites
Eglises et Chapelles
Point de Vue
Forêt primaire
Maisons de Santana
Point non identifié


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