Chapel on the Rock

Chapel on the Rock

Capelinha do Calhau

The  ‘Capelinha do Calhau’ in Sao Vicente marks the entrance of the village of Sao Vicente.  The villagers built this remarkable and tiny chapel, dedicated to the holy Vincent,  in 1692.   The baroque facade is carved in a solitary basalt rock, which stands tall in the river mound of the river São Vicente.  A mosaic made of riverbed stones decorates the facade.

Donations of the devotees funded the chapel construction at the initiative of Inacio de Sousa.  According to history, the rock is the same location where the martyr Saint Vincent appeared, who is also the patron of the church. The chapel underwent restoration in 1885. Furthermore, the Capelinha do Calhau is a symbol of the municipality of São Vicente.  An old legend heard in 1837 by an American visitor says that the chapel was built to keep the Ocean at bay.

Walking from the center of Sao Vicente to the small chapel and further along the Ocean front is very enjoyable.  This walk takes you through a small park with modern sculptures and benches.  The two river banks are joined by a wooden bridge which gives access to the old pathway which can be seen in the picture below.

The chapel of the rock through time

The chapel pictures and paintings below tell the story of Madeira’s development also.

The Original Chapel
The Original Chapel
Chapel of the Rock
Chapel of the Rock
Chapel and Sao Vicente river
Chapel and Sao Vicente river
Today's chapel
Today’s chapel

Where to find the Capelinha do Calhau

Other things to see in Sao Vicente

There are many other things to see in Sao Vicente.  Amongst them is the beautiful village church, the Igreja Paroquial de Santa Isabel. But you can also go and visit a cave system dating back from the very beginnings of the island.