Immerse yourself in island culture in rich, rewarding Madeira

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The island of Madeira, a precious possession of Portugal, has a rich culture that adds to the enchantment of a holiday. Since its settlement in 1419, the island has been a hub of innovation, and this trend has continued into the 21st century. One of the most exciting cultural developments of the past decade is the Design Centre, which was once a fort and has now been transformed by designer Nini Andrade Silva. The centre features a permanent exhibition of Silva’s strong and organic works, showcasing every curve and contour. It also houses a bar and restaurant with stunning views of the island’s capital, Funchal.

The intersection of art and gastronomy can be found at Il Vivaldi, a restaurant in Funchal. The head waiter, Carlos Duarte, is also an artist, and his vivid works adorn the walls of the restaurant. Visitors can even purchase one of his original pieces after their meal. Funchal’s old town, with its narrow streets and rich history, offers plenty of street art to explore. Highlights include the cathedral with its magnificent interior and the nearby cathedral of Madeira wine, where visitors can learn about and taste the island’s famous fortified wine.

Madeira’s volcanic soil is ideal for growing grapes, which are used to produce both fortified Madeira and the island’s table wines. Quinta do Barbusano is a vineyard that invites guests to wander through its terraced hillside vineyards, offering a unique wine-tasting experience. Another notable destination is Monte, reachable by the Teleferico do Funchal. This town is known for its beautiful gardens, housed in the Monte Palace, and the baroque Church of Our Lady, which serves as the final resting place of the Hapsburg dynasty.

Madeira’s greatest celebrity is Cristiano Ronaldo, the renowned football player. Visitors can learn more about his success story at the CR7 Museum and discover the island’s adoration for its most famous son. The island even renamed its airport as Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport. With so much local culture to explore, from wine to football, it is recommended to allocate extra time to fully immerse oneself in Madeira’s enchanting offerings.

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