Geology


Madeira is on the African plate and was created by a hot spot. The island itself is only the top quarter of a volcanic system. The cliffs drop below the water surface up to 4,000 m to the seabed.

Since Madeira was formed in several volcanic phases, the first began about 18 million years ago, the last ended only about 6,450 years ago, the exact location of each crater is no longer discernible. Remains can be seen in many places in the interior of the island. Impressive are the former sluices of the volcanoes, which unlike the surrounding rock have not yet been eroded by the erosion. In some places in the high mountains you can also see striking mountain tops or rocky cliffs.

The lava cave Grutas de São Vicente was created during this last phase of volcanic activity. A tubular cavity remained as the effluent lava cooled and solidified on the surface. Below the surface, the lava flowed through this tube at a high temperature and high flow rate.

The rivers of the island usually have a very steep gradient. Numerous waterfalls lead directly to the sea.

Click on the pictures for an enlarged view.

The Pico Ruivo is with 1862 m the highest peak of Madeira and at the same time one of the highest peaks of Portugal. The coast of Madeira is steep and rocky. Cabo Girão, the "Cape of Inversion", is the highest cliff in Europe with a height of 580m. Fajã was the name of the hard-to-reach fertile headlands, which served as arable land as well as the small fertile high plateaus, the Achadas.

Did you know?

AZULEJOS - WALLPictures FROM "SMALL STONES"


Azulejos are an integral part of Madeira. King Manuel I was enthusiastic about art and introduced Mudéjar - Azulejos from Southern Spain to Madeira around the year 1500. The Moorish craftsmen put individual differently colored stones together to form patterns to avoid the color bleeding - hence the term "Azulejo = small stone. The king himself also ordered the sparkling tiles for the tower of Funchal Cathedral. Madeira never had its own production, so all azulejos from Lisbon or Porto would be delivered.

At the beginning of the 20th century, depictions of traditional everyday scenes were popular. Frequently, old flower, birds and ship motifs were processed. Wall-filling tile carpets decorated house walls, interiors of churches or devotional images for house facades. At Café Ritz in Funchal, in the Mercado dos Lavradores and in many other places of the city are still some to admire. A comprehensive overview of Azulejo art can be seen at the Jardim Tropical Monte Palace. The Frederico Freitas Museum in Funchal also displays valuable azulejos from eight centuries and different countries.