Curral das Freiras ('Nuns Valley') is a small parish nestling between almost perpendicular mountains in the heart of the island. Both Eira do Serrado and Paredão viewpoints are excellent locations to contemplate the magnificent views of this parish.
The huge cauldron in which Curral das Freiras is sitting was either formed by erosion, which is the more recent theory, or as many still believe, by volcanic activity.
In 1566 the nuns from the Santa Clara convent fled from pirates attacking Funchal and found seclusion here, where they also brought the convent treasure.
The parish is very isolated, and locals mainly live of what they grow. The local chestnuts are delicious and are used in everyday cooking.
Curral das Freiras was the property of a couple that sold this land to the captain of Funchal, João Gonçalves da Câmara. This captain gave the lands to his daughters when they entered the Santa Clara convent (also built by him).
Today’s 'Nuns Valley' has a great annual celebration. Every year locals celebrate the ‘Chestnut Festival’ – a festival originated when the local parish had a surplus of chestnuts. They were then used in several culinary delights from soup to cakes and from pudding to liqueur. Nowadays, the festival is a big attraction with plenty of food, music, dancing and, of course, wine.