PR 19 - Paúl do Mar Royal Path
This walk is located in the western area of Madeira Island, linking the parish of Prazeres with Paúl do Mar, dropping from an elevation of 550 metres to the sea shore.
In the parish of Prazeres, take advantage of the opportunity to visit the Learning Farm with its various animais, and the Casa de Chá (Tea House), where you can savour infusions of aromatic and medicinal herbs and purchase traditional sweets made with organically-grown fruit.
The descent is made along the face of the cliff between Assomadouro at Prazeres and the dock at Paúl, winding between terraced farm plots, held in place by stone walls, formerly used for growing grain crops, but with decline of agriculture today, they are largely abandoned. Assomadouro is the name given to the place from which something interesting can be seen, being a synonym for miradouro (belvedere). In fact, the view from here is superb, with beautiful panoramic views to the left (the tiny parish of Jardim do Mar) and to the right (Paúl do Mar) that are truly dazzling.
Designated as a municipal path, it is an example of the difficult access routes that were traversed many times with heavy loads on the back, but which were the only alternative to the access by sea, which was too expensive for many and impossible when the sea was raging.
This trail is a genuine historical heritage, winding along the steep slope in a zig-zag pattern, its stone pavement in small stair steps bearing witness to the isolation of past generations and to the ingenious and difficult trails built by the people to overcome this isolation.
Waterfalls and endemic flora exclusive to these elevations, such as pride of Madeira (Echium nervosum) and Madeira mountain stock (Euphorbia piscatoria), help make this trail a true discovery trip.
When you reach Paúl do Mar, be sure you explore this small parish on the seashore and wonder at the high cliffs that surround it. At one time, it was an important fishing village, and due to the great abundance of fish, in 1912 a canning factory was set up here to export tuna.
Today, you can still see remnants of the chimney of that factory, as well as the salt pools, the sugar cane mill and the small fishing port with its typical fishing boats that keep the maritime traditions alive.