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Madeira Islands: paradise in the Atlantic

October 13, 2011 - 2:25am
Madeira Islands: paradise in the Atlantic
Located west of Portugal, the Madeira Islands have become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, regularly attracting more than 1 million vacationers each year. With a reputation for delicious wine and pristine beaches, the archipelago has become a regular stop on Trans-Atlantic cruises.

The most well-known of the islands is Porto Santo. Situated in the northeastern corner of the cluster, the island is famous for its long stretches of unspoiled coastline. One beach in particular runs for 5.6 miles uninterrupted, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy the temperate climate without feeling crowded.

The largest city on the islands is Funchal, which has been the capital of Madeira for more than 500 years. Funchal is home to numerous historic buildings, including the Cathedral of Funchal, which has been located in the city since 1514, making it one of the few buildings that survives from the era.

Madeira is also famous for reasons beyond its climate and coastline. The island plays host to a New Years Eve bash every year that in 2006 earned the distinction of having the largest fireworks display ever, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.