Geology


Madeira is on the African plate and was created by a hot spot. The island itself is only the top quarter of a volcanic system. The cliffs drop below the water surface up to 4,000 m to the seabed.

Since Madeira was formed in several volcanic phases, the first began about 18 million years ago, the last ended only about 6,450 years ago, the exact location of each crater is no longer discernible. Remains can be seen in many places in the interior of the island. Impressive are the former sluices of the volcanoes, which unlike the surrounding rock have not yet been eroded by the erosion. In some places in the high mountains you can also see striking mountain tops or rocky cliffs.

The lava cave Grutas de São Vicente was created during this last phase of volcanic activity. A tubular cavity remained as the effluent lava cooled and solidified on the surface. Below the surface, the lava flowed through this tube at a high temperature and high flow rate.

The rivers of the island usually have a very steep gradient. Numerous waterfalls lead directly to the sea.

Click on the pictures for an enlarged view.

The Pico Ruivo is with 1862 m the highest peak of Madeira and at the same time one of the highest peaks of Portugal. The coast of Madeira is steep and rocky. Cabo Girão, the "Cape of Inversion", is the highest cliff in Europe with a height of 580m. Fajã was the name of the hard-to-reach fertile headlands, which served as arable land as well as the small fertile high plateaus, the Achadas.

Did you know?

The famous Madeira wine

The worldwide unique Madeira wine.

The Madeira wine was created by sheer coincidence. In the 15th century, Portuguese sailors took port wine in wooden barrels on their long voyages. At the end of the journey, which often led through the tropics, they discovered that leftover wine became softer and milder. He gained in taste and so the transport of port wine was carried out from then on targeted. Today, the wine is no longer sent on the long sea voyage, but stored for three to five months at 45 ° C to 75 ° C.

Madeira wine can be very valuable: a bottle of Madeira wine became famous because it was bought at the Sotheby's auction house in New York on May 10, 1997 for around $ 22,000. It was a Madeira wine from 1800, once owned by Thomas Jefferson. The bottle was auctioned by Barrie Larvin, owner of the Hotel Casino Rio de Las Vegas.

Vintage Madeira is the premier class of Madeira wines. He carries a year on the bottle and contains only wine from this vintage. It must be made from one of the noble grape varieties (Sercial, Verdelho, Bual, Malvasia, Terrantez) and matured for at least 20 years in the barrel. Most vintage Madeira, however, store much longer in the barrel, sometimes more than a hundred years. Also, the traditional Canteiro process, in which the wines are heated by the sun, is prescribed. A glass of such a fine Madeira wine at the end of the day means enjoying Madeira.