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Curral das Freiras Madeira

The Curral das Freiras is a stunning natural depression in the mountainous interior of Madeira that was the sanctuary and hiding place of a convent of nuns during a particularly unpleasant pirate raid. Visitors to the area will quickly understand why this was such an ideal location to wait out an attack, the region is almost completely hidden from the outside with steep mountains on all sides and in the 16th century was virtually inaccessible.

Curral das Freiras Madeira

The steep hills of the Curral das Freiras Madeira

Today, the view over the cauldron shaped depression is regarded as one of the most spectacular views of Madeira and this is on an island with many stunning view points. Curral das Freiras makes for an enjoyable excursion from Funchal and offers great hikes, stunning views and a charming little town selling chestnut cakes!


History of the Curral das Freiras

The Curral das Freiras was well known to earlier settlers on Madeira but it came to prominence during the 16th century during an extended pirate raid on the island. The island was subjected to a 100 day raid by the French pirate, Bertrand de Montluc in 1566 whose band of drunks and savages went on a murderous and destructive rampage across the island.

Curral das Freiras Madeira

The town of Curral das Freiras Madeira

The nuns of the Santa Clara convent in Funchal fled the capital to the most inaccessible section of the island, the Curral das Freiras. This name was given to the region after the chaos as it translates into Nuns Refuge. The nun’s untimely had their revenge on Bertrand de Montluc as during the extended raid he was injured and died weeks later due to his wounds.


What to do at the Curral das Freiras?

The main attraction of the Curral das Freiras are the spectacular views, the best of these is from the Eira do Serrado view point. This is also the location for the old foot and mule path down to the village, the path is a great hiking route with over 50 twists and turns as it snakes down to the pretty village.

The church in Curral das Freiras

The church in Curral das Freiras

Once in the village don’t forget to try once of the delicious chestnut cakes that are produced locally from the chestnut trees that are cultivated in the valley.

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