segunda-feira, 29 de janeiro de 2018

The Convent of Santa Clara

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The walls of the Santa Clara Convent separate the world from one of the oldest religious orders in Madeira. This convent was founded in 1496 by João Gonçalves de Câmara, Zarco’s (discoverer of the island) grandchild. Dona Isabella, Zarco's granddaughter, was its first Abbess. She established an aristocratic tradition which ensured the wealth of the convent. After her, many wealthy families’ daughters were forced to take "vows" when they were of age. It was such vows that supposedly provided spiritual benefits to them and their families.
The Convent of Santa Clara was rebuilt in the seventeenth century over the foundation of a fifteenth century chapel, where the remains of the first three governors of Madeira are believed to be buried. It includes a courtyard and a chapel, which exhibits an array of spectacular paintings, sculptures and tiles. 
In 1566, French pirates under the command of Bertrand Montluc pillaged the city of Funchal for fourteen days. The nuns had to abandon the Convent and took refuge in Curral das Freiras, or Nuns' Valley, taking with them a "monstrance", which in Roman Catholicism refers to an open or transparent receptacle adorned with precious stones in which the consecrated Host is displayed for veneration. 
Towards the end of the sixteenth century there were about seventy nuns. By the seventeenth century that number rose to one hundred and thirty.  
In 1896, the state handed the Convent over to the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, which opened its doors for worship, as well as to shelter the poor.
Nowadays, the nuns run a kindergarten. It is possible to book guided tours to visit the convent, 
The Convent of Santa Clara is classified as a National Monument.

Opening hours: Monday - Saturday, 10:00 - 12:00 / 15:00 - 17:00
Closed: Sunday and Public Holidays
Contact: Calçada de Santa Clara 15, 9000-036 Funchal / 291 742 602

sábado, 20 de janeiro de 2018

Custard Apple Exhibition

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Every year, at the end of February, the Faial Community Centre and the Farmers Association promote the annual Regional Custard Apple Exhibition (Exposição Regional da Anona), in partnership with the Regional Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources and the Municipal Council of Santana. It is held in the parish of Faial and the event aims to support the production of this fruit and its derivatives, such as liqueurs, puddings, ice cream and milkshakes. This festivity provides plenty of entertainment, music, contests, food and beverages.

Common Blackbird (Turdus merula cabrerae)

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Order: Passeriformes Family: Turdidae Status: Breeding in Madeira

Common Blackbird Field ID Keys:

Shape & Size

Medium-sized thrush with short bill and short legs.

Colour Pattern

The male is uniformly black with a yellow beak and eye ring while the body of the female is brownish, with small, lighter-coloured specks on the breast and with dark bill.


Spends most of the time on the ground near cover, feeding. Its flight is usually low and quick, swooping into cover.


The habitat of the Blackbird ranges from forest to urban areas, and includes farm lands, gardens and high-altitude vegetation. The only type of habitat where this species does not occur is in areas of no vegetation.
A very common bird throughout the island of Madeira, but with not many individuals on Porto Santo.

Distinction from similar species

The Blackbird of Madeira and Porto Santo differs from its congener by being darker and smaller, and as it is also found in the Canary Islands it is therefore an endemic subspecies of Macaronesia.

Wingspan: 34 - 38 cm (Hume, 2002)

Total length: 24 - 25 cm (Beaman & Madge, 2011)

Weight: 80 - 110 g (Hume, 2002)

Seasonality in Madeira: All year

Breeding: On a grass and mud cup base with twigs as structure, built low in vegetation, 3 to 5 eggs are generally laid on each of up to 4 broods between March and August, though the season varies with altitude, as breeding occurs later at higher altitudes.

Diet: Feeds on worms, insects and invertebrates of all kind in the ground and on berries and fruits in bushes.

Clethra Arborea

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Clethra arborea, commonly known as the lily-of-the-valley-tree, is a flowering plant in the genus Clethra. It is found in Macaronesia where it is native to Madeiraextinct in the Canary Islands, and considered an introduced species in the Azores. In Madeira its natural habitat is laurisilva forest.

It is an evergreen narrowly upright shrub or small tree, growing to about 6 m tall and 4 m wide. The foliage is dense and glossy, with the leaves up to 7–10 cm long. The flowers are small, white and fragrant, similar in appearance to those of lily of the valley, hence the common name. The flowers are grouped in terminal panicles and bloom in early to mid summer. The plant is toxic to humans; it contains andromedotoxin which may cause diarrhea and even sudden death.


The tree prefers moist, acidic and well-drained soils, disliking alkaline soils. It is sensitive to frost and likely to die if the temperature falls below −3°C. It is propagated by seedscuttings and air-layering.

Terreiro da Luta

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Terreiro da Luta is located north of Monte (Funchal) and the area was once the last stop on the only cog railway (Monte Railway) in Madeira. It is also where the Our Lady of Peace sanctuary (Nossa Senhora da Paz) is located.
Between 1893 and 1943, the area was connected to Funchal by Madeira's only cog railway.
The Our Lady of Peace sanctuary (Nossa Senhora da Paz) statue which is supported by 4 roman columns, is located here. It was built after the attacks on Madeira during World War I, which were first felt in Madeira on December 3, 1916 when the German U-boatU-38, captained by Max Valentiner went into Funchal harbour on Madeira and torpedoed and sank 3 ships, CS Dacia (1,856 tons), SS Kanguroo (2,493 tons) and Surprise (680 tons). The commander of the French Gunboat Surprise and 34 of her crew (7 Portuguese) died in the attack. The Dacia, a British cable laying vessel, had previously undertaken war work off the coast of Casablanca and Dakar, was in the process of diverting the South American cable into Brest, France. Following the attack on the ships, the Germans proceeded to bombard Funchal for two hours from a range of about 2 miles (3 km). Madeiran cannon artillery returned fire and eventually forced the Germans to withdraw.
On December 12, 1917, two German U-boats, U-156 and U-157 (captained by Max Valentiner) again bombarded Funchal, Madeira. This time the attack lasted around 30 minutes. Forty, 4.7 inch and 5.9 inch shells were fired. There were 3 fatalities and 17 wounded. In addition, a number of houses and Santa Clara church were hit.

A priest, José Marques Jardim, promised in 1917 to build a monument should peace ever return to Madeira. In 1927 at Terreiro da Luta he built a statue of Nossa Senhora da Paz (Our Lady of Peace) commemorating the end of World War I. It incorporates the anchor chains from the sunken ships from Madeira on December 3, 1916 and is over 5 metres tall. 

Max – The Fado Singer

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Maximiano de Sousa, commonly known as Max, was one of the most popular fado singers from the 1940s until well after his death in 1980.
Maximiano de Sousa, known to most people as Max, was born in Funchal on January 20,1918. It was here where his career started. He was a tailor, and even after becoming an artist, he long maintained that profession. In 1936 he began working at night in a hotel bar in Funchal as a singer and continued to work as a tailor during the day. In 1957, he left for the United States where he remained for two years, afterward he toured AngolaMozambique, South Africa, Brazil, and Argentina. He died on May 29, 1980.

Selected discography:
·         Noites da Madeira/Bailinho da Madeira (78, VC, 1949)
·         Bailinho da Madeira/Noites da Madeira (Single, Decca/VC, 1956)
·         A Mula da Cooperativa / A Coisa / O Magala / O Homem do Trombone (Columbia)
·         Porto Santo
·         31
·         Sinal da Cruz
·         Pomba Branca, Pomba Branca/Quando a Dor Bateu à Porta (Single, Decca/VC, 1974)
·         As Bordadeira
·         Casei com uma Velha
·         Júlia Florista
·         Maria Rapaz
·         Maria tu tens a mania
·         Mas sou fadista
·         Mula da Cooperativa
·         Nem ás paredes confesso
·         Noite
·         O Magala
·         Pomba Branca
·         Porto Santo
·         Rosinha dos Limões
·         Saudades da Ilha
·         Sinal da Cruz

·         Vielas de Alfama

Fátima Lopes

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Fátima Lopes is a well-known Portuguese fashion designer who was born in Madeira on March 8, 1965.
She was born and raised in the capital city of Funchal. Since an early age she showed an interest in fashion and during her adolescence, unhappy with what the shops had to offer in terms of clothing, she started to design her own clothes. Being fluent in EnglishFrench and German, she worked as a tourist guide for a local travel agency.
In 1990 Fátima moved to Lisbon, where she believed she could better pursue a career as a fashion designer. With a friend she opened a boutique named "Versos", which sold mainly clothes from international designers. In 1992 the boutique changed its name to "Fátima Lopes" and in that year the Fátima Lopes brand was born. In September of the same year, she participated in a fashion show that took place in an old convent in Lisbon (Convento do Beato), where her work was widely applauded.
In 1994 she exhibited her collection in Paris at the "Salon du Prêt-à-Porter Feminin". Two years later she opened her first international store in Paris, located in the famous rue de Grenelle. At the same time she began to diversify her collections by creating bags and shoes for both men and women.
In December 1998, she started the management of the model agency "FACE MODELS" in Lisbon.
In the year 2000 she caused a media sensation by appearing on a catwalk herself in Paris wearing the world's most expensive bikini, made out of gold and diamonds, with an estimated value of one million dollars. In 2003 she opened her first brand store in the United States, located in Melrose Avenue in the city of Los Angeles.

She worked on the design of the official suit of the 2006 Portuguese football World Cup team.