Estreito da Calheta

Estreito da Calheta

A settlement since the 16th century

The characteristic aspect of the area, which looks like a canyon or a deep valley, made the first settlers call this place, located on the western side of Madeira Island, Estreito da Calheta (estreito means “narrow valley”)

Today, the civil parish is part of Calheta municipality, one of the first places outside Funchal subject to colonization and farming.


As such, the settlement and clearing of the land that then became the civil parish of Estreito da Calheta, did not take long.


In times, there was one or more populated estates, which formed the primitive core of the settlement, which was later established there.

André Gonçalves França, who came from Poland in mid 16th century, was one of the first settlers. Accounts indicate that the settlement began in the second half of the 16th century.

Agriculture is the most important economic activity of the parish. The most predominant culture is the vine, after the sugar cane that was once strongly established. Sugar cane used to be very important, particularly during the prime of the white gold (sugar) era. During that time, Madeira used to export sugar in very large quantities, and trade for Flemish art, which today is exhibited in Museu de Arte Sacra (sacred art museum, in Funchal).


Besides vine, there other important crops, namely potato (usually known in the island by semilha), sweet potato, beans and other vegetables, as well as fruit trees.

Today, the local population is around 2,000 inhabitants.


The climate is very mild, just like the rest of the Island. However, the winter is a little harsh.


How to Get There


To get to Estreito da Calheta from Funchal you need to take the freeway in the direction of Ribeira Brava (Funchal-Ribeira Brava). Take the Ribeira Brava turnoff, and then follow the signposts towards Calheta and Estreito da Calheta.


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