Funchal is the crown jewel of the Madeira cities, being the largest and most known, it usually overshadows other, growing, cities. But in my trip trough the island I came across a small town, not even very far from the capital, that also caught my interest: Câmara de Lobos. A place I’ve found even more synonyms with Madeira’s history than Funchal!
Câmara de Lobos is located to the west of Funchal, by car it doesn’t take very long. But the contrast is interesting, because of Funchal’s growth through the years it has become a more modernized, touristic and ostentatious city and heading west you’ll see all of the new hotels and shopping areas. But, going further, you’ll start to see the diference between Funchal and Câmara de Lobos, and the main diference is that even though Funchal has been modernizing, Câmara de Lobos is still very close to its origins. The main exports from the area are agriculture and fishery, and the two main products in those sectors are Bananas and Black Swordfish, which are the most typical food items you can ever get on Madeira (apart from Bolo do Caco)! And that’s just the beginning!
The navigator who discovered Madeira, João Gonçalves Zarco, settled on Câmara de Lobos first and gave it its name due to the fact that, before the big colonization of Madeira, a species of sea-lion, called Lobos Marinhos (sea-wolfs) where native to the main island, nowadays they have been pushed away from the shore and only thrive on the desert islands, but at the time of Zarco’s arrival, the shore of Câmara de Lobos was filled with… well, Lobos!
But exploring the town you’ll see also some impact done by tourism, like the many bars that serve the two very known local beverages: Poncha and Nikita. Poncha is a fruity yet very strong alcoholic beverage, but served in a small dose, while Nikita can be either alcoholic or not, and it’s a thick and cold drink similar to a milkshake. On the day I went there, these streets where filled with decorations due to the Festival do Peixe Espada Preto, a local celebration around the Black Swordfish, and it is truly a good stroll around town.
I also advise walking through the seashore and seeing the local painted ships, Xavelhas, and exploring the rocky surface to find hidden things people have left between the stone.
Has a bonus, I’m just going to mention Cabo Girão, because it’s a must and isn’t far from Câmara de Lobos. Cabo Girão is the tallest promontory in all of Europe, and has recently been built there a glass viewpoint, from where you can not only see the cities and hills from a privileged location, but also behold the sea right below you. It is a very known place to visit and a lot of event have been done around it, including a stunt jump from a motorcycle from the top of Cabo Girão to the beach on the bottom! And there is a video to prove it!
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