Santana is a municipality along the northern coast of the archipelago of Madeira, and is one of this Portuguese island’s most important tourist destinations, mainly because of the traditional palheiros. Santana is famous for its traditional homes with bungalow rooftops that are made out of straw that extend down to the ground, making them triangular in shape.
Most of these houses are tourist attractions. The straw roofs are renovated every four to five years. They are mainly rural houses, used by farmers in the past. These houses have white walls with red doors and windows and blue trim.
They were built using the resources at hand: stone or wood for the walls and straw from the once-abundant wheat fields for the roof. The palheiros served the locals for centuries as stables and dwellings.
The most well-known type of house is the triangular one with the thatched roof coming all the way down to the ground. Inside there is an attic for storing agricultural products and a ground floor divided into two rooms, one of which was the bedroom. Cooking was done outdoors.
At the beginning of the colonization, the land was allotted amongst noblemen and some bourgeois, with the ownership of plots of uncultivated land. They were bound to clear the land and build houses for people and shelter for livestock.