Fishing village and free trade zone


Caniçal civil parish was established in 1561.

The name comes from a region abundant in small canes, a type of reeds. Since these were many at the time, the place ended up by being called Caniçal, which means plantation of reeds.


Caniçal, much like Câmara de Lobos and Machico, is a well known fishing village.

In the past, the parish was known for whaling, where it even had a factory. Without hiding its past, it keeps traces of that activity in a museum that is well worth visiting. Museu da Baleia (whale museum) is located at Largo Manuel Alves, in the centre of Caniçal.


With the creation of Madeira’s International Business Centre, Caniçal was chosen to welcome one of the most emblematic and the most visible sector in Madeira: the Industrial Free Trade Zone, where the established factories benefit from advantageous tax conditions, and the harbour.

The Free Trade Zone is located in an area of 120 hectares, where an economically successful infrastructure was created.


The Free Trade Zone employs the labour force available in the parish, as well as a great quantity of the active population from neighbouring parishes.


Therefore, the most important economic activities are fishing and the free trade zone activity. In the future, the Madeira’s commercial port is going to be transferred here from Funchal. Other economic activities include catering and some traditional trade.


Caniçal has a golden sand beach in Madeira Island: Prainha, which, for that reason, is very sought for by tourists.


The settlement started with Vasco Moniz. He left his oldest son the entail of Caniçal, on September 5, 1489.


Caniçal has one of the oldest of the smallest ecclesiastic parishes on the Island: Chapel of Piedade, located on top of a hill, close to the sea and Prainha.


It is here, that every year the Nossa Senhora da Piedade (Our Lady of Mercy) festival takes place, whereby the pilgrims are transported by ornamented boats, most of which, fishing boats. Devotion to Nossa Senhora da Piedade is very strong amongst the fishermen of Caniçal and Machico.
The parish, today, has about
5 thousand inhabitants.


The climate is a little variable, with the characteristic wind of this geographical area, on the extreme eastern part of the Island, but with mild temperatures all year round, as well as low humidity levels. 



How to Get There


From Funchal, take the freeway in the direction of Machico (Funchal-Aeroporto-Machico). You can also choose to go via the old Estrada Regional 101 (regional road). In any case, you must follow the signposts.

After you arrive at Machico, go all the way up and then follow the signposts towards Caniçal.

Related Links

Levadas Walks Madeira

Monuments, Churches, Chapels, Fortresses in Madeira Island

Museums and Exhibitions in Madeira Island

Peaks and View Points in Madeira Island

Religious Festivities and Arraiais in Madeira Island

Health Centres in Madeira Island

Civil Defence - Emergency Service in Madeira Island

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