Curral das Freiras is a small village recluse located in full heart of the Madeira, in a very beautiful boxed site.
Around, the vines form arbors above dead ends of the village. One cultivates especially the wicker and the beams are put to dry in front of dilly-dally, while waiting for the winter, where it will be braided. The village became famous for its cherries and the manufacture of a liquor called ginja. Excellent cakes there are also found.
The shape of the “Valley of the Nuns”, Curral das Freiras is so singular that one a long time took it for the bottom of a volcanic crater. But this valley was indeed dug by will ribeira of Soccoridos. An impressive crown of peaks and abrupt cliffs girdle the green plate of Curral.
Curral das Freiras means: cattle shed, or enclosure, of the Nuns. The village owes its name (“Cattle shed of the Nuns”) with an episode going back to 1566 when the sisters of the convent of Santa Clara with Funchal sought there refuge against the attacks of the French corsairs of Monluc, and placed in the cattle sheds.
Curral das Freiras is located at 30 minutes north of Funchal, at the bottom of a valley steepsided at the bottom of an imposing volcanic circus cut out by erosion.
It is only recently, when tunnels under the mountains allowed the passage of the first roads, that the village left its fabulous insulation. The road which carries out to it replaced the old path which traversed in zigzag the vertiginous slopes. Dug in an absolutely vertical rock face, it must cross these two tunnels to reach the village.
The villagers saw only in 1986 their first televised images.
Since the carpark, a way, partly in staircase (145 steps), circumvents by the line the pico do Serrado (1 095 m) and gains the view-point.
Eira do Serrado is one of the most beautiful sites of Madeira, with impressive sights on the surrounding mountains and the village, in the valley of the Nuns, which constellates with its White Houses the hollow of a mountainous circus to the gullied walls.
Located at 1,053 m of altitude at the bottom of peak do Serrado (1 115 m), the view-point dominates the hearth of an old crater at the bottom of which the village of Curral das Freiras is heated by the sun. The panorama on the mountains with the sharp-edged peaks where the clouds cling is impressive.
With the bottom of the chasm, back Socorridos (torrent of the Survivors) will ribeira it runs with nearly 800 m of depth. Its name evokes the first colonists who found refuge at this place when the island was devastated by seven years the long fire, of 1420 to 1427.
In front of the view-point the vastest circus extends from the mountains of Madeira: in the west the picos Grande (1 607 m) take shape and do Jorge (1 692 m), Pico da Geada (1 497 m); in north, i.e. opposite, Torrinhas (1 823 m); on the right Arieiro (1 810 m) and, all at the bottom, Ruivo (1 861 m).
Excursion in Pico Ruivo
The hikers will be able to borrow one of the paths from going away towards north (towards the refuge of Pico Ruivo and the northern coast via the refuge of Torrinhas and Fajã do Penedo; to count two good days of walk for this excursion.