Curral das Freiras
Curral das Freiras was for a long time one of Madeira's more
inaccessible inhabited locations, being in a valley surrounded by high mountains.
It was used as grazing pasture from an early date (late 15th Century)
becoming known simply as Curral (meaning a place for keeping livestock).
The land passed into the hands of the local nuns (freiras) who later
took refuge there during attacks on Funchal by French privateers and at some point acquired the name of Curral das Freiras. The valley is known for the production of sweet chestnuts and of sour cherries (ginjas) and each has its own festival (cherries in the summer, chestnuts in the autumn).
old, precipitous, road has been replaced by a tunnel and access is
consequently considerably easier. Today, the small parish is much visited for its scenic location and is consequently well-provided with visitor services. However, the steep mountains create an island of tranquility when you step even a short distance from its centre and it has perhaps one of the most idyllically situated cemeteries anywhere!
As well as taking an organised tour, HF bus 81 runs from Funchal to Curral das Freiras. A number of the journeys take a detour to the Eira do Serrado viewing point in the mountains high above the village which - on a clear day - offers views of the village far below on the valley floor as well as of the startling former access road.