Porto Santo

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Porto Santo
Panorama of Porto Santo
Panorama of Porto Santo
Waters Atlantic Ocean
Archipelago Madeira
Geographical location 33 ° 4 ′  N , 16 ° 21 ′  W Coordinates: 33 ° 4 ′  N , 16 ° 21 ′  W
Porto Santo (Madeira)
Porto Santo
length 11.6 km
width 6 km
surface 42.17 km²
Highest elevation Pico do Facho
517  m
Residents 5482 (June 30, 2011)
130 inhabitants / km²
main place Vila Baleira
Map of Porto Santo
Map of Porto Santo

Porto Santo ( German  "Holy Port" ) is a Portuguese island in the Atlantic , about 42 km northeast of Madeira and part of the Madeira archipelago .

Porto Santo is about eleven kilometers long and no more than six kilometers wide. The inhabitants live mainly from fishing and tourism , for which the nine kilometer long sandy beach is particularly attractive.


View of the main town of Vila Baleira

When the Portuguese navigators João Gonçalves Zarco , Tristão Vaz Teixeira and Bartolomeu Perestrelo "rediscovered" the Madeira archipelago in 1418, they first entered Porto Santo to check the possibility of settling Madeira from here. A pregnant rabbit abandoned in 1418 reproduced very rapidly, so that after a few years the first settlers suffered from a large rabbit plague.

In 1420, Bartolomeu Perestrelo received the island from Henry the Navigator, which was then still overgrown with dragon tree forests, scrub and macchia, as a fief. From the beginning, the lack of water made farming difficult on Porto Santo. Cattle breeding, on the other hand, was more promising than on Madeira thanks to the flat areas, which is why Porto Santo is still the meat supplier for the larger neighboring island.

In 1479, Christopher Columbus married Dona Filipa de Perestrelo e Moniz , the daughter of Bartolomeu Perestrelo, who was governor of the island at the time and who had already participated in an expedition of the aforementioned seafarers to Porto Santo in 1420. Columbus then lived on the island with his wife for a few years; It is not entirely clear to what extent the plans for his later trips to Porto Santo came about. Until the 18th century, Porto Santo was repeatedly the victim of attacks by English, French and Moorish pirates . For protection, a small fortress was built on the Pico do Facho, of which nothing is preserved today.

Landscape image

Basalt columns in the west of the island

The first settlers of Porto Santo found a wooded island with many dragon trees as well as a lot of juniper and tree heather . Ten plant species are endemic only to Porto Santo, another 29 are otherwise only found in the Madeira archipelago. Heavy clearing has meant that Porto Santo is largely treeless today; As part of reforestation projects, many new trees were planted between Vila Baleira and the airport, which belong to the Porto Santo Natural Park. Nevertheless, the overall landscape impression of Porto Santo remains, especially in comparison with Madeira, which is a bare island, which is also related to the very dry climate and the fact that there are no rivers.


The Campo de Baixo beach

Most tourists visit Porto Santo because of the nine kilometer long sandy beach of Campo de Baixo , which is all the more attractive as Madeira itself has hardly any sandy beaches. Porto Santo is visited not only by tourists, but also by many residents of Madeira, especially on weekends. In Vila Baleira there is the Casa Museu Cristovão Columbo , a museum in the house that was probably once inhabited by Christopher Columbus. The 517 meter high Pico do Facho in the east is of volcanic origin and offers a good view of the island. In the west there are interesting basalt formations on the southern slope of the Pico de Ana Ferreira .

Transport links

The ferries need around 2 ½ hours to travel between Madeira and the port of Porto Santo Santo. They run daily in the summer months of July, August and September (twice on Fridays and Sundays) and every other day except Tuesday. (As of 2018)

In the 1960s, NATO built an airport on Porto Santo , from where Madeira can be reached in 20 minutes; there are also flight connections to Lisbon and Porto . In the summer of 2014, Porto Santo was flown to directly from Germany for the first time. Starting in summer 2017, Condor will be offering weekly flights between Düsseldorf and Porto Santo.


Porto Santo District
flag map
Flag of Porto Santo Location of the Porto Santo district
Residents: 5482 (as of June 30, 2011)
Surface: 42.59 km² (as of January 1, 2010)
Population density : 129 inhabitants per km²
Number of municipalities : 1
Administration address: Câmara Municipal de Porto Santo
Rua Dr. Nuno Silvestre Teixeira (Edifício de Serviços Públicos)
9400-162 Porto Santo
President of the Câmara Municipal: Roberto Paulo Cardoso da Silva ( PSD )
Website: www.cm-portosanto.pt
Porto Santo District

The main town on the island is Vila Baleira on the flat south coast. Almost all of the residents of Porto Santo live here. Porto Santo is one of the six Portuguese counties that encompass only a single municipality ( freguesia ).

Individual evidence

  1. www.ine.pt - indicator resident population by place of residence and sex; Decennial in the database of the Instituto Nacional de Estatística
  2. Overview of code assignments from Freguesias on epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu

Web links

Commons : Porto Santo  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Porto Santo  - Travel Guide