Enchanting Photos of Madeira’s Ancient Fanal Forest Filled With 500-Year-Old Trees

Fanal Forest by Albert Dros

The island of Madeira is known for its dramatic landscape, which includes rugged mountains, volcanoes, and rocky beaches. But one of Madeira's most unique treasures is an ancient forest where every step takes you inside a scene ripped from a fairy tale. Known for its enchanting morning fog, the Fanal forest is part of an ancient laurel forest. Thanks to incredible images by photographer Albert Dros, we're transported into this dreamy landscape.

Fanal is part of the Laurisilva forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its beauty and ecological importance. Incredibly, 15 to 40 million years ago, much of Southern Europe was covered in this type of laurel forest. Now, it can only be found in Madeira, the Azores, and the Canary Islands. Fanal is particularly noteworthy for its hiking trails, which allow visitors to take in the different specimens of trees—some of which are 500 years old.

Dros shows every aspect of the picturesque forest from dusk to dawn. Detailed views of moss-covered trunks and stunning compositions of solitary trees twisting across the landscape bring viewers into the environment. Fanal is particularly known for its fog, which often rolls across the forest in the morning and envelopes the trees in mist. These mysterious images contrast with the mood of the forest during sunset and at night, when the sky provides a canvas of color behind the trees. “Walking around here is simply magical,” says Dros. “With the forest covered in fog you sometimes don't know if you're walking in a dream…This forest is something I've never experienced before.”

Luckily, thanks to its UNESCO status, the Fanal forest will remain in pristine condition for years to come. Located within the Madeira Natural Park, it enjoys special protective measure to ensure that these ancient trees continue to flourish.

Madeira's Fanal forest is known for its ancient trees and fairy-tale landscape.

Fanal Forest by Albert Dros Horse Grazing at the Fanal Forest Fanal Forest by Albert Dros Fanal Forest in Madiera by Albert Dros Tree Photography Fanal Forest by Albert Dros Fanal Forest by Albert Dros

In the morning, fog rolls through the forest and envelopes the trees in mist.

Fanal Forest in Madiera Fanal Forest in Fog Dawn in the Forest Mysterious Forest Early Morning Mist in the Forest

Landscape photographer Albert Dros also captured a unique perspective of the forest under the stars.

Nighttime at the Fanal Forest Sunset at the Fanal Forest Sunset at the Fanal Forest

Visitors flock to this protected area to take in the ancient trees, some of which are 500 years old.

Fanal Forest by Albert Dros Fanal Forest in Madiera Tree Photography Forest in Spain Fanal Forest by Albert Dros Cows at the Fanal Forest Fanal Forest by Albert Dros Fanal Forest by Albert Dros Mysterious Forest

Albert Dros: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Albert Dros.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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