The Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Piedade

A chapel on top of a mountain stands out in the landscape of Caniçal, in the eastern part of Madeira

The Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Piedade is located in the easternmost parish of the island of Madeira, Caniçal. Its name derives from the abundance of reeds that existed at the time of the discovery of the island.

The chapel, although located in the parish of Caniçal, has an eccentric location in relation to the urban core of the parish. It is an isolated building on top of a hill called "Gordo" or "Piedade", overlooking Prainha, one of the few sandy beaches in Madeira.

From the top of the hill it is possible to have a panoramic view over the sea, the bay and the Caniçal hillside.

The construction of the chapel, according to tradition, is due to the fulfilment of a promise by sailors, who, when they saw that the vessel would be wrecked against the rocks of the coast, during a storm, promised that if they saved themselves, they would build a small chapel.

Its construction, according to some authors, probably dates back to the 17th century, but its author is unknown. It is a small chapel of pilgrimage, in the Mannerist style, but already uncharacterized. It has a simple rectangular floor plan with a sacristy adjoining it to the north, built later.

Its structure is made of plastered and painted basalt stone.

The main façade is oriented to the west and ends in a gable topped by a Cross of Christ in Madeira stonework. It has a portal with a perfect round arch on pilasters, flanked by a holy water font, also in stonework from the region, but painted grey.

Inside, there is a small revivalist altarpiece in painted carving, which also includes a painted altar table. The walls are very simple, plastered and painted white with a wooden ceiling.

The chapel has the particularity of being the stage for one of the most interesting and peculiar processions of Madeira: in honour of Our Lady of Piety, when fishermen fulfil the ancestral promise.

The image of Our Lady of Piety is transported by sea, in a boat and accompanied by many others, rigorously decorated. The celebration brings together many believers who make a point of accompanying the image from the chapel to Caniçal by sea.

The celebration, which takes place in September, is one of the most popular festivals on the island, attracting people from all over the island, as well as many tourists.