Curral das Freiras - Nun's Valley and Eira do Serrado
Curral das Freiras, "Nun's Valley".
19 km away from Funchal, at an altitude of 633 meters and surrounded by high mountains, there is the village of Curral das Freiras.
The name Curral das Freiras, which means Nun's Valley, was given when nuns from Funchal found shelter and a hiding place as they had to escape the city which was under attack by French pirates.
Back then, the nun's used a hidden walking trail.
It was only in 1959 that a road large enough for a vehicle was built. The road finds its way curling on the sides of the stief mountains. Despite some narrow passages and the deep ravines, the road looks safe and should not be a problem.
There are quite a lot of chestnut trees is this area. Given that people on Madeira always used to live from what nature gives them, the main product of the locals here is chestnuts.
Chestnut cake, chestnut liquor, chestnut soup... everything in Curral das Freiras is about chestnuts.
The local liquor, Ginja, is prepared from cherries or chestnuts. Tourists can try both tastes in the many small cafés in the village. Of course, Ginja can be bought as a nice and tasteful souvenir.
Inhabitants of Madeira appreciate what nature gives them.
Therefor Curral das Freiras celebrates the yearly chestnut festival, each 1st of November.
Eira do Serrado.
At a solitary altitude of 1095 meters, along the same road to Curral das Freiras, there is the place called Eira do Serrado with the only building being the 4 star Estalagem with the same name as the area.
a small footpath leads from the hotel to the "Eagle's nest" where you get a fantastic view on Nun's Valley.
The short walk (5 minutes) is highly recommended !
On the Web site of hotel Eira do serrado you can see a nice movie about the environment and the car trip along the mountain road.
Site : www.eiradoserrado.com (The site opens in a new window)
How to get to Curral das Freiras ?
From Funchal, take the Via Rapida in the direction of Ribeira Brava. Leave this highway at the exit "Pico dos Barcelos".
From there, just follow the signs along the ER107 towards Eira do Serrado and Curral das Freiras.
Just remember, if you come to a crossing that has no direction marks, then you should drive straight ahead.
Somewhere halfway the climb, you'll have the option to drive through the tunnel or to stay on the mountain road. The latter gives the better views !
Click for Pictures from Curral das Freiras and Eira do Serrado