Calheta

Calheta
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The Calheta municipality, home to close to 12 thousand people, is located between the southern and western end of the island of Madeira, and its area of approximately 116 Km2 makes it the longest of the Autonomous Region of Madeira.
It is thought that the origin of the name derives from the small bay or cove, which serves as its port, where Zarco entered when he intended to go ashore, because this is the meaning of Calheta.

This locality houses the Arts Centre “Casa das Mudas”, a project designed in complete harmony with the surrounding landscape, which features a wide cultural offer. “Casa das Mudas” holds exhibitions of various kinds, plays, musicals, conferences and many other events.

The municipality of Calheta has eight parishes: Arco da Calheta, Calheta, Estreito da Calheta, Fajã da Ovelha, Jardim do Mar, Paul do Mar, Ponta do Pargo and Prazeres.

Calheta
Calheta houses the “Sociedade de Engenhos da Calheta“ where you can observe the machinery used in the manufacture of brandy and sugar cane honey and taste the traditional honey cake accompanied by Poncha.
Arco da Calheta
 
The name of this parish is due to the special semicircular shape of its hills, and its proximity to the parish of Calheta.

This parish was one of the first places on the island subject to colonization and farming after the discovery, and is one of the richest parishes in patrimony and artistic treasures.

Here you can visit the “Chapel of Nossa Senhora do Loreto”, which presents a set of Manueline architectural elements, and the Parish Church of São Brás, where you can see Portuguese artwork.
 
Estreito da Calheta
The distinctive aspect of this locality, with similarities to a gorge or deep valley, and its proximity to Calheta, led the first settlers of that region to call it Estreito da Calheta. It is believed that the local population is currently around 2,000 inhabitants.

As economic activity, there is agriculture, especially vines and cane sugar.

Here you can visit the Parish Church of Nossa Senhora da Graça, built in the late fifteenth century, and the Chapel of Reis Magos, built in the sixteenth century, and admire their architecture and artwork.
Prazeres
The name of this village comes from a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Prazeres, built in the locality long before the creation of the parish.

This parish is distinguished because it is a huge belvedere, where you can see places that seem to be distant, in perfect harmony with the ocean.In this parish you find the levadas of Ribeiro da Inês, Ribeira do Batel and Ribeira da Lombada.

Here you can visit the Pedagogical Farm of Prazeres which has many animals, some exotic, and a garden with medicinal and aromatic plants. This farm has an area of 3,900 m2 and is located adjacent to the Parish Church of Nossa Senhora das Neves.
Fajã da Ovelha
It is believed that the name of the city is due to the fact that, in the past, a shepherd lost a sheep in the fajã - a type of platform that sedimentation of allowed man to use - and that this episode gave origin to the name of the parish.

This parish, which has about 1,340 inhabitants, has a largely agricultural economy. However, it further develops activities such as baking, construction, dairy, general merchandise, provision of services and cattle breeding.
In this village we can admire, from the viewpoint of the parish church of São João Baptista, the part of the rock which, according to the legend, Santo Amaro protects the location, so that it does no fall in the sea.
Ponta do Pargo
This parish has about 1,145 inhabitants and its main economic activities are fishing, agriculture and livestock.
Located in the extreme southwest of the island, the name is linked to the fact that when the explorers were unravelling the coast, on the boat Severus of Afonso, they fished in this area a fish of fabulous size similar to a ‘pargo’ (snapper). For this reason they called this tip Ponta do Pargo.

The coastline of Ponta do Pargo was too dangerous for navigation, and for this reason a lighthouse was built on top of the rock (Ponta da Vigia), inaugurated on 5th June 1922. We can visit the land adjacent to the viewpoint and admire the magnificent view over the Atlantic Ocean.

This region is distinguished from all others in Madeira, due to the size of its plain and slightly hilly terrain.
Jardim do Mar
This parish is situated on a forming fajã unknown and presumably prior to the discovery of the island. The beauty of the place, once covered with wildflowers, is at the origin of the name and is mirrored in other toponyms such as Sítio das Roseiras.

Along the coast lie the ruins of the old mill of this location with tiles that served as lining of the tanks. The prismatic chimneys, the houses that surround the Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário and the narrow streets are symbolic marks of the past, giving it a decorative dimension.

The village has about 252 inhabitants and its economy is based on agriculture and hospitality, living mostly of surfers.
 
Jardim do Mar is a favourite with surfers because it is considered that there are the best waves in Europe here. This place stages many international surfing competitions.
Paul do Mar
This parish is located southwest of the island of Madeira and has about 900 inhabitants in an area of 1,700 m2. The name of this parish comes from its terrain because it looks like a valley by the sea, under high rocks.

The sea provides fish in abundance to this parish, especially of migrating kind. This led to the appearance of the canned tuna industry for export in 1912. Still, today we can see the chimney of the old factory, which bears witness to this fact.

This parish comprises an important fishing centre and the fish is used in local restaurants and is enjoyed by islanders and foreigners.
The Paul do Mar, like the neighbouring Jardim do Mar, is a privileged venue for surfers who can challenge the waves, considered by some the best in Europe.
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