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Review: Sao Vicente

City/Town/Region/Island

Madeira, Portugal

An attractive small settlement on the north coast wit a superb Baroque church

  • By SilverTraveller ESW

    2345 reviews

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  • May 2019
  • Solo

33 people found this review helpful

Sao Vicente is a small settlement at the mouth of a river on the north coast of Madeira. It is surrounded by high mountains and famous for its volcanic caves and Volcanism Centre.

It is an attractive settlement of red tiles houses and narrow lanes. At the mouth of the river is the tiny Capela da Ponta built into a basalt outcrop. The church tower of Nossa Senhora de Fatima built 1953 stands on the hillside overlooking the town.

We drove through the town, missing the old pedestrianised centre, only stopping to visit Igreja Matriz de São Vicente in the centre of the village. Built in 1692, this is an attractive black and white building next to the grave yard with its family mausoleums and small graves.

The church has an impressive Baroque interior with lots of gilding. The painted nave ceiling shows St Vincent blessing the village.

An arcade of painted pillars and arches separate nave and side aisles. Above the arches are gilt framed pictures. There is a frieze of blue and white azulejo tiles round the base of the aisle walls with panels of saints. The baptistry just inside the door has more blue and white azulejo tiles around the walls and a picture of John the Baptist baptising Christ.

The chancel is particularly impressive with its painted ceiling depicting the boy Jesus holding a cross. The Altar and rededos seem to wrap round all the walls. There is a small gilded host box with a massive tabernacle behind. There are two smaller, but equally impressive altars on either side of the chancel arch.

This is a beautiful church and probably one of the best smaller Baroque churches on the island. It is definitely worth visiting, as is the small graveyard across the road.

There are more pictures here.

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