Sao Vicente and Cabo Girão
|It was a short drive along the coast to SAO VICENTE, overlooked on the far hillside by the church tower of Nossa Senhora de Fatima built 1953.
We didn’t have chance to see the tiny Capela da Ponte built in a basalt rock at the mouth of the river or the Caves and Volcanic Centre at the southern edge of the village.
We drove through the town, only stopping to visit Igreja Matriz de Sao Vicente in the centre of the village. Built in 1692, this is an attractive black and white building next to the grave yard.
It has an impressive Baroque interior with lots of gilding.
The painted nave ceiling shows St Vincent blessing the village.
An arcade of painted pillars and arches separate nave and side aisles. Above the arches are gilt framed pictures. The lovely carved wood pulpit is mounted on one of the pillars.
There is a frieze of blue and white azulejo tiles round the base of the aisle walls with panels of saints.
There are small altars at the ends of the side aisles.
There is a small balcony across the back of the church.
The baptistry just inside the door has blue and white azulejo tiles around the walls and a picture of John the Baptist baptising Christ.
The chancel is particularly impressive with its painted ceiling depicting the Boy Jesus holding a cross. The Altar and rededos seem to wrap round all the walls. There is a small gilded host box with a massive tabernacle behind. Round the base of the walls are more Azulejo tiles with large gilt framed pictured above.
There are two smaller, but equally impressive altars on either side of the chancel arch.
This is a beautiful church and definitely worth visiting, as is the small graveyard across the road.
After leaving Sao Vincente, the main road cuts south through a pass between the mountains back towards Ribiera Brava. Compared with many valleys, this is much wider with more cultivatable land in the bottom. We did a detour to the viewpoint at Cabo Girao. The road climbs and winds its way up the side of the mountain through impressive hair pin bends.
CABO GIRAO viewpoint is at just over 1900’. The cliffs are some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe and fall sheer down to a tiny patch of cultivated land on a wave cut platform at their base.
Most tours of Western Madeira visit Cabo Girao in the morning and it can get very busy. You are also looking directly into the sun for views of Funchal. Late afternoon it was relatively quiet.
There is a parking area and it is a short walk through Eucalytus and Mimosa trees, past the tourist shops and cafe to the viewpoint built out over the edge of the cliff. At the end is the Skywalk, a glass platform with views down to Fajas de Cabo Girão. These were only accessible by boat until a cable car was built to reach them in 2003.
A steep valley separates Cabo Giro from Funchal.
Near the viewpoint is the holiday village of Cabo Girao.
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