Santana, the Biosphere Reserve of Madeira
Santana in Madeira is a natural paradise on Earth, recognized by the UNESCO, that named it a Biosphere reserve and a Natural Heritage Site.
Located in the northern part of the Madeira island, Santana is worldwide famous for its small triangular houses built of natural stone, thatched with straw and colored in white, blue and red, the colors of the Archipelago. However, Santana is much more than that.
The mountainous surroundings, dominated by the Laurissilva Forest, named as World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO, are breathtaking. Besides, Santana’s location, at about 312 meters high, provides unforgettable views over the Madeira Island and the Atlantic coast. In fact, its well-preserved natural beauty and uniqueness in terms of fauna and flora has just granted Santana the honor of joining the World Network of Biosphere Reserves defined by the Man and the Biosphere Programme of UNESCO.
This new biosphere reserve is the first in the Madeira Archipelago. Despite an active tourist industry, agriculture dominates the economy of local communities. The site features a rich fauna and flora that incorporates a high degree of endemism. and an integral representation of the most relevant ecological units of Madeira, from the marine and coastal ecosystems to the high altitude vegetation, through the laurel forest. The Madeira Archipelago is part of the Macaronesian region, which also includes the Canary and Azores islands, home to several island biosphere reserves.
The best way to enjoy this unsurpassed beauty is exploring the area on foot. Going along some trails that lead you to places like Caldeirão Verde or Caldeirão do Inferno is a truly remarkable experience. And if the climb to Pico Ruivo, the highest place on the island is well worth the effort, coming down to the fajã Rocha do Navio using the cable car will leave you speechless.
Santana proudly preserves its traditions, mainly due to the fact that stayed isolated for many years, as it was not easily accessed by sea or land. For this reason also, agriculture and craftwork still play a leading role on the local economy. Tourism is of course another important source of income.
Besides its natural wonders, Santana is a cultural spot of the Madeira Island mostly due to the Thematic Park of Madeira, dedicated to the history, nature, culture and traditions of the Archipelago.
If you are going to Santana in July be sure not to miss the festival of nonstop traditional music and dance known as “24 horas a bailar”, which literally means 24 hours dancing, that presents folklore groups from around the world and not only from Madeira.