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Ribeira Brava

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In the southwest of Madeira, near the sea and at the beginning of the Encumeada valley, the town of Ribeira Brava is one of the most ancient of the island. Small, sunny and attractive, it has a pebble beach and a fishing harbour and it is here that the big popular feast of Saint Peter is held, in June, with its picturesque procession of boats in the sea (in the past, they were loaded with products that the land had produced during the year).

Well worth visiting, in Ribeira Brava, is the Church of Saint Benedict, overlooking the main square and one of the most unspoilt in Madeira. It was first built in the 15th century and later restored and modified, from the 16th to the 18th centuries, but many of its primitive features remain intact, like the stone-carved front, the pulpit decorated with wild animals, a Flemish painting of the Nativity and a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary. The church's clock tower is also curious, with its decorated tiles.

The town maintains its traditional plan, with houses clustered in the valley divided by narrow streets. At Pico da Cruz, a fine view of Ribeira Brava can be observed.

From here visitors can drive up to Serra de Água, a region of abundant forest vegetation crossed by streams and, in the background, imposing mountains with abrupt peaks.

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