The old centre
There are several theories which try to explain the origin of the name São Jorge (Saint George).
One of the versions derives from a sailor that would have disembarked there. Another theory states that a certain person gave the name of his son to this land. However, there is a third account, which we believe is the most likely one – well, at least it is the most coherent theory: historians believe that there was a chapel consecrated to Saint George, which, during the second quarter of the 18th century, was converted, into a parish church, ending up by determining the name of the civil parish.
In fact, the civil parish of São Jorge was initially centred in a place called Calhau, by the mouth of the stream, where a chapel was established in the end of the 15th century. This chapel was nearly destroyed by a great storm in 1660.
The settlement took place in 1425, after Infante D. Henrique, the prince, having given the order to colonise the island, where São Jorge civil parish was included.
The settles were Portuguese from the mainland.
The establishment of the civil parish dates back to the year 1517.
São Jorge belongs to the municipality of Santana, and is located on the extreme north of the Island, by Ponta de São Jorge.
The civil parish is limited by the Atlantic Ocean in the north, and by the cordillera of Pico Ruivo. São Jorge has an area of 18.3 km2, and about 1,596 inhabitants.
Amongst the local economic activities, agriculture, trade and industry stand out.
According to some historians, for more than four centuries, São Jorge was considered one of the most important trading centres in the north of Madeira Island.
In fact, in a small inlet, vessels moored coming from Funchal and other places, and supplied the civil parishes of São Jorge and Santana.
However, on the 20th century, the building of the new road gave an end to the supremacy of the civil parish. The place started to decay, since it ceased being a compulsory passing place.
In terms of climate, the summer has very mild temperatures, but the winter is a little harsher, with some rainfall.
How to get there
From Funchal, take the freeway in the direction of Aeroporto (airport) and Machico. Follow the signposts to Porto da Cruz, via the old Estrada Regional 101(regional road), and then towards Santana. Continue following the regional road, since São Jorge is located a little further ahead.
However, there is another way to get there.
From Funchal, take the freeway in the direction of Ribeira Brava (Funchal - Ribeira Brava). Take the Ribeira Brava turnoff and follow the Estrada Regional 101 (regional road) towards the high mountains and less housing in the direction of São Vicente.
After passing São Vicente, carry on until the coastal road and turn right in the direction of Boaventura, passing by Ponta Delgada.
Go by the Arco de São Jorge parish. São Jorge is located right afterwards.
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