Faial

Faial

The parish of the bridges

 

The great profusion of faias or “myrica faya” (beech trees) is in the origin of the name Faial (plantation of beech trees). These are indigenous trees of the Miracaceas family, which, still today, spontaneously grow on the valleys of streams and high mountains.


Accounts state that the civil parish had its origins is a peopled estate, which existed there. It had a chapel for prayer to Natividade da Virgem (Virgin of Nativity) or Nossa Senhora do Faial (Our Lady of Faial), which served as headquarters to the new ecclesiastic parish.
The settlement took place around 1519.

 

The civil parish was created by royal charter on February 2, 1550. Formerly, Porto da Cruz and São Roque do Faial used to belong to Faial.

Most of the settlers were Moorish and Gallician. Amongst the oldest settlers, the name Lançarote Teixeira stands out.


Some places have acquired the name of the old allottees, such as Lombo Galego and Lombo Lourenço.

Horticulture is amongst the main economic activities of the civil parish of Faial, particularly fruit trees but also other crops.

 

In the past few years, the parish has been standing out for the production of custard apples. It is in honour of this fruit that an annual festivity takes place in Faial.

 

For many years, it produced osier twigs. However, with time, this became a marginal activity, with the decrease in search of basketwork.

 

On the other hand, there are accounts stating that during the early colonization times, Ribeira do Faial or Ribeira Seca, served as a strategic point for the construction of mechanical devices. It was a time when a lot of sugarcane was produced. In fact, during the 17th century there were three water wheels, for the milling of the sugar cane, which was then exported to the mainland and aboard.

Nowadays, you can still see the ruin, underneath the bridge. Speaking of bridges, there are accounts that state that Faial was known as the civil parish of the bridges, all because, between 1907 and 1910, the largest bridge in Madeira Island was built there. It had 130 metres and later became known as "ponte das sete bocas" (bridge of the seven openings).

 

Currently only ruins of this work of art still remain, since the bad weather that flogged the Island in 1984, ended up by destroying it. Near by we have the go karts track and faial beach.

 

Very close by, a five arches bridge was built over Ribeira da Ametade stream, at Sítio dos Moinhos.

And on June 22, 1986, the new Faial bridge was inaugurated by Mário Soares, the President of the Republic at the time.

 

It is also important to mention that Faial has one of the two hydroelectrical stations on the Island: Central Hidroeléctrica da Fajã da Nogueira (Fajã da Nogueira hydroelectrical station), which is located on the left bank of the Ribeira da Ametade stream. 

 

The civil parish has about 2,800 inhabitants.

The weather here is very mild, given its altitude and proximity to the sea.

 

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). Faial is located after Porto da Cruz.

 

You can also go up to Monte, towards Poiso, from where you go down to Ribeiro Frio, and then to Faial.


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