Ribeira Brava main economic activity is agriculture; from the cultivation of land comes sweet potatoes, beans, vegetables, some cereal, fruit and wine.
The Church of São Bento, built in the fifteenth century and situated in the town of Ribeira Brava, boasts beautiful panels of clear Flemish influence, representing the Virgin and the Child, São Bento and São Bernardo. São Bento is the patron saint of Ribeira Brava, for whom the inhabitants express special devotion.
On 29th of June they celebrate with one of the most sought for festivals of the island in honour of Saint Peter.
The parishes belonging to this municipality are Campanário, Ribeira Brava, Serra de Água and Tabua.
Ribeira Brava Parish
The name of Ribeira Brava derives from a stream of water which crosses it and almost always has a rebellious flow.
In this parish, we can find the Ethnographic Museum of Madeira, which exhibits collections of ethnographic objects linked to different social, economic and cultural aspects of the archipelago of Madeira.
The Fort of São Bento is also in Ribeira Brava, which currently houses the tourism office, and the Lighthouse where you can climb and overlook Ribeira Brava, Ponta do Sol and the Campanário hills.
With an area of 11.8 km2, the parish of Campanário is inhabited by about 4,200 people. The name of this town comes from an islet with two tall elevations like a church bell tower, located in the sea in the area relating to this parish.
Its economy is based on agriculture, where the potatoes, vines, bananas, oranges and tropical fruit come from.
Integrated in the parish of Campanário is Fajã dos Padres, home to about 50 people. This is a small holiday resort with excellent beach and fishing conditions. This area has good climatic conditions for the cultivation of various tropical fruits and also winegrowing. Access to this site is done by boat or by a panoramic elevator.
In this parish we have Calhau da Lapa, a seaside area known for its crystal clear water and tranquility. The descent to this village is steep and requires caution, so we can access this site by boat.
Serra D´água Parish
Located in the centre of the southwest part of the island, Serra d’Água has about 1,300 inhabitants over an area of 24.70 km². This parish is surrounded by a dense thicket and high hills, among which stand out the peaks of Cruz, Cedro and Pico Grande. It is still irrigated by several streams, which together form the Ribeira Brava stream.
The name of this parish is derived from the construction of a mill for the sawing of timber with the name of “serra de água”, a name which later extended to the whole the parish. It was in this parish that the first Hydroelectric Station of the island emerged, in 1953.
Via the Serra d’Água road we can go up to Encumeada, a high point of the island that connects Ribeira Brava on the south coast, and São Vicente, on the north coast. Along the climb to Encumeada we can glimpse the stunning panoramic landscapes of the southern and northern parts of the island, with the blue sky on the background and the clouds interspersed with mountains.
Located on the beachfront on the southwest coast of Madeira Island, is the smallest parish in the municipality of Ribeira Brava covering 11.10 km2 and 1,105 inhabitants. The name of this parish is derived from a plant called ‘tabua’ in abundance in that region, and was used in the manufacture of mats and seats.
This parish is crossed by a 7-km river in the north-south direction, originating at Pedras Peak, at 1,510 meters altitude, and that culminates in the seaside. The main economic activity of this parish is agriculture, because its soil is favourable for the cultivation of vines and cane.
In this parish, you can visit several religious monuments, such as the chapel of Nossa Senhora das Candeias, church of Santíssima Trindade and the chapel of Mãe de Deus.