Madeira Island Review

The island of Madeira has a surface area of 459 square miles (741 km2), (35 miles long and 13 miles wide).


Thanks to their excellent geographical location and mountainous relief, these islands have surprisingly balmy weather, with moderate humidity and pleasant average temperatures of 25ºC in the summer and 17ºC in the winter.

The sea temperature is also very mild, thanks to the influence of the warm Gulf Stream, averaging 22ºC in the summer and 18ºC in the winter.

The archipelago is located in the African Plate in the Atlantic Ocean between latitude 30 ° and 33 °N, basically at the same latitude as Casablanca, 978 km southwest of Lisbon, about 700 km west of the African coast, and 450 km north of the Canary Islands.

This archipelago is formed by the Madeira Island with an area of 741 km², Porto Santo with 42.5 km², the Desertas Islands with a total of 14.2 km² comprising the three uninhabited islands, and by the Selvagens Islands whose set of 3 islands and sixteen uninhabited islets make up an area of 3.6 km². Of the eight islands, only the two largest (Madeira and Porto Santo) are inhabited and can be accessed via the Madeira Airport in Funchal and Porto Santo Airport.

Funchal, the capital city of Madeira, has access by sea, through a port with a modern station that stands out on the national scene, with regard to cruising. More than half a million passengers disembark here per year. The remaining islands are nature reserves.

For hundreds of years, Funchal was the only city of the Autonomous Region of Madeira, until 5 other cities gained this status between the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the next century: Câmara de Lobos, Caniço, Machico, Santana and Vila Baleira.

The island of Madeira has a very rugged terrain, with the highest point being Pico Ruivo (1,862 m), the Pico das Torres (1,851 m) and Pico do Arieiro (1,818 m), respectively the third, fourth and fifth highest points of Portugal. The northern coast is dominated by high cliffs and in the western part of the island you find a plateau region, the Paul da Serra with altitudes between 1,300 and 1,500 m. 

The population of the Autonomous Region of Madeira is traditionally follows Roman Catholicism.

The Diocese of Funchal was created on 12 June 1514 and its current bishop is D. Nuno Brás da Silva Martins.

In 1991, Pope John Paul II visited the island of Madeira and, to this day, he was the only Pope to visit the island.

Protestantism is practiced by few natural inhabitants and in small groups. To serve this cult, there is, in Funchal, a temple for the Anglican rite, the English Church, and another one for the Scottish rite, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Funchal.

Accessibilities

The accessibilities on the island of Madeira are a little varied, we have places where we can go easily, without major problems, but many of them are not accessible.


Avenida Do Mar Funchal

The downtown Funchal, where the port is easy, it's all flat, problems start when we need to enter the shops of shopping, shopping (elevators of small dimensions), restaurants. The old area, it's almost all in ancient stone, it's not hard, but it becomes a problem.  


Cable Car Madeira Island

The cable car is highly sought after, for those who will visit the Monte. The cable car stops to get someone in a wheelchair, scooter, but you need to be careful with the measurements of the cabin and doors.

The city of Funchal is recognized as Garden City, result of the familiarity of the green spaces with the houses, with great floristic wealth, in a symbiosis between the countryside and the city. This landscaping and environmental harmony provides pleasantness to the experience of the cable car ride.

Watch the city depart, and climbing the slopes approach a steep nature fitted by the Atlantic blue. From the city to the top of Monte parish, see also the natural beauty of the Madeira, its orography and geology.


Monte Palace Garden Madeira Island

When we get to the Monte, there's a garden.

Monte Palace Garden, is extremely large, and we take about 4h to see. It is not fully accessible, but it has a golf cart, paying an extra price, they can come and seek it there is a doorway and leave it at the end of the garden while waiting for your family.

The Monte Palace Madeira occupies an area of 70.000 square meters and houses an huge exotic plant’s collection, coming from all over the world, together with swans and duck’s, that populates the central lake, peacocks and chickens, that walk free in the main areas of the property. In the central lake, the visitor may also admire the beauty and majesty of the swans. They prefer the relatively shallow cool water of lakes and ponds as their natural habitat. Despite of being actually admired in gardens all over the world, the black swans originate from Australia, Tasmania and New Zeeland and the wild white swans have their origin in Iceland and Scandinavia.

The Monte Palace Madeira Museum is an ideal exhibition space nestled within the beautiful surroundings of a tropical garden. There are three floors, two of which are dedicated to sculptures and the third houses a unique mineral collection gathered from the four corners of the world.

The exposition entitled 'African Passion' shows part of a collection of contemporary Zimbabwean sculpture from the period 1966 to 1969. More than a 1000 sculptures are distributed on two floors of the museum. The top floor concentrates on individual creations, allowing the viewer time to observe the characteristics and workmanship of each artist. The second floor captures the environment in which these talented men and women work in order to create and display their sculptures to the world.

'Mother Nature's Secrets', on the lower floor, proudly exhibits one of the finest private collections of minerals, predominately from Brazil, Portugal, South Africa, Zambia, Peru, Argentina and North America. From more than a 1000 specimens, around 700 have been specially chosen for display. Some specimens are displayed in hollows designed to imitate the environment in which the minerals form in the depths of our planet, whilst others are “suspended in air” to give the sensation of a planetary space where rocky masses gravitate freely. Also for your enjoyment is an exhibition of more than 300 semiprecious and precious gems, with a particular focus on diamonds, both rough and cut.

One of the most interesting characteristics of the Monte Palace Madeira is the existence of a large collection of tile panels placed along the walkways and amongst the vegetation acquired by José Berardo, under the specialist direction of Manuel Leitão. This collection, considered to be one of the most important in the country after that of the National Tile Museum, is made up of Hispano-Moorish tiles of the 15th and 16th centuries and panels produced in Portugal from the 16th to the 20th centuries.

It is possible to visit the Monte Palace Garden using the Off Road Wheelchair.

Botanical Garden Madeira Island

 The Madeira Botanical Garden is one of the most visited gardens of the island of Madeira, but it is not accessible for wheelchair, the floor is stone, has enough uneven but through the chair for all the land that my company uses, this garden can be visited.

 The Madeira Botanical Garden - Eng. Rui Vieira, with a landscaped area of approximately 5ha, gathers a high quantity and diversity of plant species (about 3000) originating from ecologically well-differentiated areas of the globe. Throughout the garden, the plants are identified with the scientific name, common name, family and place of origin and arranged in several main collections, of which stand out: the endemic species of Madeira, the arboretum, the succulent plants, the choreographed gardens and topiary, agro-industrial plants, aromatic and medicinal plants, palm trees and cicadaceae and garden areas. 

It is possible to visit the Botanical Garden using the Off Road Wheelchair

Palheiro Gardens Madeira Island

The History of Palheiro Gardens

this garden is, in the high areas of Funchal, almost makes a fountain with Caniço.

it is a garden, which is part of an old farm.

The garden is not easily accessible, because it has several steps and the floor is made of old stone, it is not easily accessible with a manual chair or an electric chair.

After the death of John Burden Blandy in 1912 the property passed to John Ernest Blandy (1866-1930). He met Elinor Reeder from Washington when she visited Madeira onboard the New York State schooner rigged training ship St Mary's, commanded by her father Captain Reeder. They married in Baltimore in 1901 and lived at Palheiro. Elinor cared for the gardens and brought in trees from America - notably Sequoias and Liriodendrons which can still be seen today.

Here's an extract taken from the book Madeira - Impressions & Associations by Alan Lethbridge who visited the Estate or Quinta as it was known circa 1924: "Through the lodge gates that takes one back to an English country house, up a more intimate drive boxed in with camellias of every known shade and behold, the house, the new house, for the old one has long since been abandoned for more modern comfort. It is said that in the days of Portuguese ownership the steward was told to go and count the camellia trees and on being asked how he got on, answered, "Sir, I have counted 9,000 and I am tired, there are many more, so let us say that there are 10,000".

With John Ernest's passing in 1930, Graham inherited the estate and was soon to marry Mildred, born in South Africa. It was her turn to care for the gardens while Graham worked in town and wrestled with the farm at Palheiro on weekends. She was a passionate gardener and imported many plants from different parts of the world notably Proteas from South Africa. It was she who made the gardens famous, opened them to the public and together they entertained many notables visiting the island. Meanwhile, the Casa Velha, the Old House, remained derelict and forgotten and slightly mysterious. But it proved a great playground for children.

And so to the current owners after Graham´s death in 1972. The farming land and forests were turned into the golf course which opened in 1993, the Casa Velha was restored and turned into a hotel and Palheiro Village was built. Adam continues as Chairman of the Estate, his wife Christina (from Sweden) cares for the gardens and oversees Casa Velha, Adam's son Jonathan is Chairman of the golf, the hotel and the leisure activities, whilst daughter Louisa works at Palheiro Village with the property management team looking after the owners and rental guests.

It is possible to visit the Palheiro Gardens using the Off Road Wheelchair.


Museums

Much of the museums are accessible, it depends of course on the location of each.

Some use ramps for manual chairs to enter, elevators, depends a lot on the size of each equipment (chairs) and not all authorize the electric chairs and scooters enter because it can damage the floor or hit what is exposed.

This museum presents several stones of Madeira's lighthouses, photographs, documentation and a panel exhibition about the history of the region of Madeira.

The Ponta do Pargo lighthouse stands on a cliff, 300 metres above sea level, at Ponta da Vigia, the westernmost point on Madeira Island. It was built in 1922.

In 1999, it was considered as local heritage and since 2001 it has had a small museum where several pieces relating to Madeira lighthouses are exhibited, from photographs to documents, concentrating these important monuments in the history of the archipelago.


Transport

Transport is only possible in the Funchal area, some buses are equipped with electric ramp, on the side, but do not always work, and the measurements are for manual chairs, if it is a larger chair / scooter, may not fit.  As they are public transport, no accessories are used to fix the equipment, I remind you that we have many descents and climbs.

There are some tour buses that make some trips in the center of funchal and surroundings, are prepared to wheelchair with manual ramp, but again I warn, which are not fixed with accessories, and we have many ups and downs. The experience can be good as bad.


Food and beverage tasting venues

There are many traditional places for wine tasting, sweets and traditional delicacies, some are accessible via elevator, or we put access ramps.


Viewpoints

Many viewpoints are wheelchair accessible, without major problems, highlights the viewpoint of Cabo Girão, which has restaurant and adapted toilet.  The viewpoint of the Bride's Veil, one of the very famous viewpoints of our island. These are ones that stand out.

There are others that are part of our tours.

Restaurants

Many restaurants are accessible, through elevators, ramps, etc. 

They are places where you can taste our traditional food, such as fried corn with tuna, shard cake, meat skewers and fried corn and other delicacies that we can taste and cry for more.

Some have the traditional Madeiran dancer to discover a little more about our culture.

And Many Other Places...

Attractions such as the Madeira  Theme Park, the Caves of São Vicente (only the center of volcanism, the caves themselves, are not), the Aquarium of Porto Moniz.


But for those who do not know my company, here is the description, so do not have to worry about accessibility, and we take care of everything.


Madeira Acessivel By Wheelchair

We are a company based in Madeira Island, Portugal. We focus our services on people with reduced mobility. Our concept is based on the finding of the physical barriers that people in wheelchairs face on a daily basis. From stairs to high walks.

Our role is to minimize these barriers and provide transport services and carry out activities that have been difficult or even impossible for people with difficulty in getting around, such as Levadas. Our motto is THE IMPOSSIBLE WILL BE POSSIBLE. 

In order to achieve this goal we have given ourselves specific equipment, such as an adapted vehicle, fold-out ramps and an all-terrain wheelchair, unique in Portugal.

Our island is a land with enormous beauty, mountains and sea. In these mountains there are the "Levadas", a designation given to an irrigation channel or aqueduct flanked by a pedestrian path and are specific to the island. These channels have an extension of more than 2000 km and are likely to be covered on foot. Due to their landscape beauty, and their surroundings in nature, they are highly sought after by those who visit us.

Most have no width, no wheelchair access, but we managed to list and make two levadas with our all-terrain wheelchair, these being the Balcões and the Queimadas. The first has a duration of 1h30 m and at the end, has a viewpoint overlooking the mountains, where we can feed the birds (which simply come to our hands) and contemplate the silence. The second has an average duration of also 1h30m and at the end has access to a small park with ducks, plants and a café with some cakes and drinks (Parque das Queimadas).

But we do not stay here, we also do the normal tourist tours, where people can visit several emblematic places of Madeira, such as the viewpoint of Cabo Girão or the Lighthouse of Ponta do Pargo.

In addition to these two places, we have more variety of places to visit, such as museums, wicker factory, wine and embroidery, distilleries, gardens, such as the 

Botanical garden (Jardim Botânico). This last on, only with the feature of the off-road chair. All are part of our portfolio, and always contemplate accessibility for our customers and the certainty that they can discover them in total safety. 

All our routes go through adapted toilets.Our car is adapted up to 3 wheelchairs and up to 7 people (always depending on the size and quantity of the wheelchairs).

Ending with a description of our services (with driver and a guide except for transfers where only the driver goes):

Routes in specific levadas

Sightseeing tours around the island

Airport or port/hotel transfers

Pickup and drop off (example: going to dinners or specific locations)