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Atlantic Islands Specialist

The Santana Houses of Madeira

Colorful Santana Houses of Madeira

When you think of Madeira, picture lush gardens, stunning coastal cliffs, and a rich tapestry of Portuguese culture. However, one unique architectural treasure stands out amid this paradise – the Santana Houses. Nestled on the north coast of Madeira Island, these traditional, triangular homes are more than just buildings; they are a window into the island's past.


The Santana Houses, locally known as "Casas de Colmo," are instantly recognizable with their distinctive triangular thatched roofs made from straw or reeds. These quaint cottages are often painted in vibrant colors, adding a touch of whimsy to the landscape. Their design is not just for aesthetics; it's highly practical for the island's changeable weather. The sloping roofs are ideal for shedding rainwater, ensuring the interiors remain dry and cozy, while the thatch provides insulation against the island's diverse climate.


Stepping into one of these Santana Houses feels like entering a time capsule. The interiors are a blend of rustic charm and functionality. The main living area is a single open space with a central fireplace, historically used for cooking and heating. The windows, meticulously adorned with woodwork, offer breathtaking views of the surrounding natural beauty that defines Madeira.


While the Santana Houses have a rich history, they aren't just relics of the past. A few of them are still inhabited on the island, although have been expanded to better fit our modern day of life. Others have been converted into museums, allowing visitors to delve deeper into the island's cultural heritage. These museums offer guided tours that explain the history, architecture, and significance of these charming homes. You can also learn about the island's agricultural heritage, as many of these houses come with adjacent gardens showcasing the crops and plants that have sustained generations of families.


Beyond its architectural wonders, Santana Village offers visitors an immersive experience of Madeiran culture and history. Wander through the cobblestone streets, interact with friendly locals, and discover the traditional way of life preserved for generations. You'll find craft markets, where skilled artisans display and sell their handmade wares, giving you a taste of authentic Madeiran craftsmanship.


If you plan to visit Santana, here are a few tips to make the most of your experience:

  • Timing: The best time to visit Santana is during the spring or summer (April to October) when the weather is mild and ideal for exploring the village and its surroundings.
  • Guided Tours: Consider joining a guided tour to gain in-depth insights into the history, architecture, and culture of Santana and its houses. Local guides often offer fascinating anecdotes and stories that bring the village to life.
  • Photography: Remember your camera! Santana's unique architecture and scenic landscapes provide ample opportunities for capturing memorable photographs.


If you're planning a trip to Madeira, include a visit to Santana on your itinerary. It can done by self-drive or added as a half-day small group experience to any of our existing or customized programs.  It's a chance to witness these charming houses and immerse yourself in this captivating island's rich history and culture. The Santana Houses are a true architectural marvel that reminds us of the beauty found in simplicity and tradition.


Visit Madeira on a Quest Travel Itinerary.  Our most popular itineraries include Taste of Madeira, Madeira Discovery, Madeira Adventure Seeker and Best of Madeira.



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