Today there is a tunnel being drilled at the bottom of the valley to improve access and commuting times for the locals. The present journey can take an hour from Funchal and many commute there with their produce to the market each day.
On the way down the mountain road from Eagles Nest you may spot this grassy zig-zag path - the way the nuns first entered their secret valley refuge and indeed the only way in and out of the village up to 1959.
Favorite thing: Located just 19km from Funchal is the almost hidden valley of Curral das Freiras - the Nun's Valley. There is only one road into the Valley of the Nuns - the road no. EN 107 and you will need a head for heights as you wind around the narrow mountain road.
Favorite thing: 'Curral das Freiras' literally means 'nun's refuge'. It got this name in 1566 when the nuns from the Santa Clara convent in Funchal, fearing for their lives at the hands of invading french pirates, fled to this valley in the interior of Madeira. Surrounded by high peaks it has an incredible setting - a sight not to miss in Madeira.
Favorite thing: If you want to you can still walk down this path into the village - it will probably take about 2 hours though and do your knees no good whatsoever! The path starts near the hotel and gift shop at the eagles nest station.
Favorite thing: The road leads up first to Eira do Serrado - the "eagles nest" - a look out point over the valley. There is a hotel and gift shops here. The view point is about a ten minute walk up steps on this cliff top (see where the trees are right on the top of the cliff).
Favorite thing: The market - what we saw of it - was a simple affair. Produce was being sold from the back of vans rather than out in the open on stalls. Some of the local houses were quite colourful too.
Favorite thing: The best day to vist the valley is on a Sunday when a local market takes place in the streets around the parish church.
Favorite thing: From the lookout at Eagles nest the panorama that unfolds is just amazing and pictures alone cannot do it justice. The valley sits in a bowl like crater with high peaks surrounding it.