São Vicente

São Vicente

“One league beyond Ponta Delgada lies S. Vicente, with its substantial lands of laurels, and its domestic animals; many walnut-yielding trees, chestnut, and other types; many grapevines, and much water, and two watermills”.

Gaspar Frutuoso, 16th Century

The council of São Vicente is situated on the North coast of Madeira island. This is one of the island’s most extensive councils, measuring approximately 78, 70 km2. It was first created in 1744, and was restructured several times over the years to reach its present area in 1898.  This council area is composed of the parishes of São Vicente (headquarters of the council), Ponta Delgada and Boaventura

Must-see places:


In São Vicente, among the favourite attractions are the caves and the Volcanism Centre.  These caves were opened to the public on 1 October 1996.  A visit to the caves will be a unique experience due to the underground lava channels, more then 400 thousand years old. Its course of approximately 700 meters includes three galleries, and visitors may enjoy wonderful views on a journey into the interior of the Earth, where volcanic stalactites lava flows and accumulations of lava are visible, and a curious stone named locally as “bloco errante” (meaning “the wandering stone”), transported by the lava but as a result of its size, became trapped inside one of the pipes. 
A visit to the Dr. Horácio Bento de Gouveia House Museum is recommended.  This house, in the popular Madeiran style of architecture dating from the 17th - 18th centuries, is where Horácio Bento de Gouveia was born. He was a Madeiran teacher, journalist and writer of many published literary works.  There are a variety of antiques on display as well as objects connected to the writer throughout his professional life. 
The “Forno da Cal” (or Lime Furnace) Museum is a truly interesting display for its cultural value, which shows an old island activity that at present is almost extinct.  “Rota da Cal” or the Lime Route, at Sítio dos Lameiros, is a journey that reconstructs the old traditional activity of limestone extraction and its transformation, which took place up until the mid 70s. 

Patrimony:


On your visit to São Vicente town centre, it is worth your while to set aside some time to pay a visit to the chapel of São Vicente and its mother church.  The chapel of São Vicente is located at the mouth of the stream which runs through the council area, and was excavated out of and built on the predominantly basalt rock in 1694.  As regards the mother church of São Vicente, it was built in the early 17th century and it contains various art treasures such as the painting of Saint Vicente blessing the town, on the roof of the church, and its magnificently carved high altar.
The visitor will also be able to experience contact with nature and observe the areas where mineral resources were extracted in the past, as is the case with the limestone mines and lime furnace. This route, known as “Rota da Cal” or the Lime Route, situated at Barrinho, Sítio dos Lameiros, is an area which comprises as well as the mines and the lime furnace, an important item of architectural, biological, historical and cultural heritage. In October 2005 it was declared the first rural museum of Madeira to be classified by the Regional Government as “area of public interest”. 
It is comprised of an area of 12.000m2 of terraced land locally known as “poios”, dams, mines, irrigation channels and traditional buildings which are the original animal shelters built in stone, called “palheiros”. This area is situated between a part of the Laurissilva forest and the Lime furnace, a unique structure of its kind on the island of Madeira. Thanks to its conservation, besides perpetuating the memory of the tradition of this industry in practice up to the early 20th century, visitors are offered the opportunity to witness the reality of the activity. 

Gastronomy: 


Among the various typical regional dishes, there are the following specialties in São Vicente: a dish known as “Caldo da Romaria”, a broth made of veal knuckle (or osso buco), onions, carrots, green peppers, tomatoes, fat, potatoes, water and salt. Other dishes are Corn Soup; Mackerel served with a traditional sauce made of garlic, salt, oregano, pepper, vinegar and white wine; and “Inhame” or yams, a sort of tubercle that is a typical food in Madeira. 

Handicrafts: 
The council of São Vicente presents the visitor with an opportunity to see the manufacture of a variety of handicrafts.  Madeira embroidery is the occupation which still today occupies much of the locals’ free time on a daily basis, as well as wicker work - especially basket weaving - near the lands of the Parish of Boaventura.  Of northern influence, there is the “brinquinho”, made out of the wood of the “vinhático” tree. This is a traditional type of percussion instrument played in Madeira’s folk music. 

Feasts and Events: 
One of the most popular feasts and events in the council of São Vicente is the Feast of Ponta Delgada which is held annually on the first Sunday of September and the Pilgrimage of Our Lady of the Rosary, in the council centre, celebrated on the first Sunday of October. 

Nature:

São Vicente is an area of intense natural vegetation.Consolidated upon a diversified geological structure which is deeply furrowed by water lines, it is almost entirely covered by a green belt of Laurissilva. Its very varied landscapes and its diverse biological, hydro-geological and human elements occur in a very original way.

There is no doubt that journeys made on foot are the best way to get to know and enjoy the beauty that the Council area of São Vicente has to offer. The abundance of paths and walks along the irrigation channels that are to be found in this area are the door to a world of nature and its people of unquestionable value.
Among the numerous possible walks, here are some:
- Entrosa walk (connects the parish to Arco de São Jorge to São Cristóvão, in the parish of Boaventura);
- Estanquinhos walk (connects Paul da Serra to Ginjas, in the parish of Ponta Delgada);
- Lombo do Urzal walk (connects Pico Ruivo to Fajã do Penedo, in the parish of Boaventura);
 


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