Ponta Delgada, Madeira, Portugal
© Jan Wlodarczyk/Alam
Ponta Delgada, Madeira
Today we're visiting the verdant cliffs at the edge of Madeira, the main island of the Portuguese archipelago that's also called Madeira, about 520 kilometres west of Morocco in the North Atlantic. These terraced hillsides are just outside the village of Ponta Delgada, on the north coast of the island. Originally uninhabited, Madeira and the other islands in this chain were settled by the Portuguese in the early 1400s and became a main stopover for European explorers during the ‘Age of Discovery’.
Today it's mainly tourists who make the trip to Madeira, attracted by gorgeous views and natural landscapes. Known as the 'Pearl of the Atlantic', it is popular for outdoor adventure, including hiking, diving and sailing. But there are cultural treasures here, too, some hinting at the island's history as a major wine exporter – its distinctive fortified wines became especially cherished in Europe and the Americas during the 18th century. Some of the wealthy Madeira landowners and wine merchants built beautiful mansions here in Ponta Delgada, some of which have been converted to museums.