Vila Baleira is a peaceful town, situated in the lovely Porto Santo Island, that has been able to maintain until nowadays a wonderful peace of mind and placidity that is so characteristic of this Island.
This territory was probably once known by Romans and Phoenicians, yet the official discovery was in 1418, first with the Porto Santo island by the navigators João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira, and on the year after the Madeira Island, by João Gonçalves Zarco and Bartolomeu Perestrelo. The initial plan was about exploring the western coast of Africa, yet due to a storm, the navigators had to shove off the initial route, which lead them to discover the golden Porto Santo Island.
Years later, Christopher Columbus spent some time on this Island, preparing his great journey for the America’s Discovery. Nowadays it is possible to visit the 15th century house where Columbus inhabited with his wife Filipa Moniz, the daughter of the governor. The house exhibits portraits of Columbus from the 16th to the 20th century and also maps with the different routes he got through.
The town and its surroundings have wisely take advantage of the crescent Tourist development of this “Golden Island”, as it is frequently named as, due to its famous golden thin sand that highly contrast with the pebbles beaches of the neighbour Madeira Island, and also due to its vegetation and soil colours close to yellow and brown. The term “golden” is also associated to the wonderful, calm and mild ocean, served by a mild weather where it seems to be Spring time all year long.
Vila Baleira is proud of its Mother Church, with an ancient history, that was probably built in 1430, yet was quite altered and re-built all over the years. In fact, in 1566 it was almost entirely destroyed by a French corsairs attack. Re-built almost entirely in 1667, nowadays presents a modest façade, with a high bell tower, and a wide interior covered with a wooden ceiling, still preserving some 15th century elements.
Another highlight of the town, is the Cultural and Meeting Centre of Porto Santo, a modern structure that allows the realization of congresses, meetings, musical shows and cinema, with an auditorium with the capacity for 300 people.