A place where you can heal naturally

In the middle of the 19th century, Madeira became a very popular resort for tuberculosis patients although it did not have hospitals for that purpose. In 1853, the empress D. Maria Amélia founded the first Portuguese hospital for phthisics in Madeira to receive poor patients. There, marine climatotherapy was practiced. Frequently frequented by Madeirans, the hospital has become a model example of climate therapies similar to what was done in Europe of the same period.

Representation of the city of Funchal in the 19th century.

Due to its mild and invigorating climate, the island of Madeira has become a therapeutic center sought by Portuguese and foreign tuberculosis patients. Madeira Island stood out as an instance of climatotherapy for pulmonary tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases. The search for a favorable climate for the cure of phthisis was a long-standing concern of European doctors.

Although climate therapy was as uncertain as any other means of healing, it was highly recommended for the relief of symptoms and the prevention of the onset or development of the disease. It was in this line of thought that Madeira started to be sought as a climatotherapeutic resort. Madeira offered both a mountainous and maritime climate, bringing together low atmospheric pressures, clean air, a rich and varied flora and abundant sunshine. The absence of swamps and stagnant waters was an asset for the prophylaxis of epidemic diseases transmitted through waters such as malaria, typhus or cholera.
The climate was conducive to the cure of pulmonary diseases, also counting on the other factors pointed out, namely the good sunshine and ventilation of the streets, the abundant vegetation, which provided clean air, decent housing conditions and general cleaning, unusual in great part of the big cities like Porto or Lisbon.

The English established regular travel routes from England to Madeira, transporting around twenty to thirty patients on each trip. Some of the famous patients who passed through there were members of European royalty such as Archduchess Leopoldina of Austria, Prince Maximilian Napoleon of Leuchtenberg, Queen Adelaide of England and Empress Consort Isabel of Austria-Hungary, “Sissi”.

Statue of Empress Sissi of Austria in Funchal.

Long sought after for its therapeutic qualities for the cure of diseases essentially of the respiratory area, Madeira continues to offer exceptional conditions as a health destination. On this island of calm and clear waters and we can take advantage of the extracts of algae and plants, the fresh aroma of the flowers, the 100% pure air, combined with the temperate climate, and renew our energies. The vast majority of hotel establishments offer a wide range of options – natural pools, saunas and massage centers. Some are even “health resorts”, complementing the offer with services such as thalassotherapy, hydromassage, Turkish bath, beauty centers, combining the medical component with the aesthetic.

We must not forget the island of Porto Santo, which, in addition to the immense golden sand beach, whose mineral properties already have an international reputation for their therapeutic possibilities in terms of the treatment of rheumatic diseases, also offers a Thalassotherapy Center that provides services of complementary health in the preventive and curative aspects.

Sand therapy in Porto Santo.

-Mafalda A.


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