Santana with its traditional houses features in all the guide books and is on all the tourist itineraries. The traditional A frame thatched houses were first mentioned in the C16th although most of the surviving examples are less than 100 years old. They typically had bright red doors and blue frames.
Containing one or two rooms, with a sleeping platform in the loft, they housed a single family. Their low squat shape was ideally suited to withstand storms that lash the north coast. Cooking was done outside to avoid fires. Traditionally they sat in their own patch of land which was used to grow fruit and vegetables. No longer used, some survive as storage or barns for cattle. Many houses have tiny models in their gardens.
A small group of houses is now preserved as a tourist attraction. The houses do get very busy, especially when a coach load of tourists arrive. Plan a visit for lunchtime, when they are quieter.
One contains the Tourist Office with maps and some information. Another has a lady doing some drawn thread work along with a loom and flax winder. There are large notices asking you NOT to take pictures and the only time she interacted with visitors was to tell someone off for taking a picture… The rest are tourist shops selling the usual offerings found everywhere on the island (and often a lot cheaper…) If you are wanting tourist souvenirs then go into one of the tourist shops in the town centre!
I had hoped there might be a traditionally furnished house giving some idea what they were like when live in. No such luck.
This is just an artificial tourist experience. To be honest it wasn’t worth the stop unless you need to take a picture of yourself to show you have been…
There isn’t much else to see or do in Santana. The plain rather simple church has a baroque altar. There is a stylish city hall and a small market in the square. This was the only place we visited that I was disappointed by and felt we had too long in!
All my pictures of Madeira are “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/otherholidays/madeira/index.html