If you haven’t been to Ilha for a few years you will notice plenty of changes. To begin with its now possible to loop the entire island on paved road. The Contra Costa, the Middle Road and a whole lot of cross streets have been paved making it easier to walk, ride or drive to where ever you’re going. There’s now a second bank, or at least an ATM, the bank is yet to be completed but BCI promise it will be open soon. Internet is more readily available and faster than before, the water supply from the mainland has been upgraded with new cisterns at the entrance to the island and a network of pipes all over the place. Even the electricity supply is more reliable – but only just! Less visible but perhaps the most important change of all is the introduction of pre-school for the island’s youngsters. 210 escolinhas are enrolled and parents are delighted

Even a first time visitor can’t help but notice the restoration to many of the buildings. Some of the most significant include:

Improvements to the Girrasol building

Girassol  Building getting a facelift before the President’s recent visit

Girassol Building getting a facelift before the President’s recent visit

Back to all its former glory, the home of GACIM and the Portuguese Corporacáo

Back to all its former glory, the home of GACIM and the Portuguese Corporacáo

The Capitania is having an enormous amount of work done by trainee Pedreiros. All the walls right down to the waters edge are being redone although what the final plan is remains a mystery.

Paving the road outside the Capatania, this is one of the last major sections to be done

Paving the road outside the Capatania, this is one of the last major sections to be done

Newly-paved roads

The new roads are encouraging owners to take more pride in their property, whitewashing buildings and repairs to footpaths is going on everywhere

The new roads are encouraging owners to take more pride in their property, whitewashing buildings and repairs to footpaths is going on everywhere

More newly paved roads and painted buildingd

More newly-paved roads and painted buildings

The official fish market has been redone with a fresh lick of paint.  As yet there are no fish on sale, the pescadores still preferring to sell their catch on the beach down by the Central Mosque instead.

Restored and painted fishmarket

Restored and painted fishmarket

Water cisterns

As part of an Australian funded program to improve water supply enormous cisterns have been constructed at the entrance to the island

As part of an Australian funded program to improve water supply enormous cisterns have been constructed at the entrance to the island

Welcome back MiraPonte. New roof, dance floor and fittings but same terrible music – just kidding

Everyone’s favorite nightclub revamped and back in business

Everyone’s favorite nightclub revamped and back in business

New builds

It’s not all good though. This absurd fantasy has appeared out of nowhere.  How did they get away with it in a World Heritage site? A lot of people would be happy to see it pulled down again

It’s not all good though. This absurd fantasy has appeared out of nowhere. How did they get away with it in a World Heritage site? A lot of people would be happy to see it pulled down again

Beach bars are popping up everywhere

Nice Sabores, the first to offer coffee and snacks in the praça, Italian syle

Nice Sabores, the first to offer coffee and snacks in the praça, Italian syle

A new bank

At last a 2nd bank on the island

At last a 2nd bank on the island

Alfandagas. This classic piece of architecture at the pontao is to become offices and 7 stylish apartments.

The first but definitely not the last luxury apartments are nearing completion in this magnificent old customs building

The first but definitely not the last luxury apartments are nearing completion in this magnificent old customs building

The massive Cafe International on the square alongside the Post Office is finally taking shape and work on converting the Feitoria (next to the Bim Bank) into a waterfront hotel has been accelerated

This restoration has been controversial from the start, but now with input from GACIM the World Heritage values of this key site are finally being respected.

This restoration has been controversial from the start, but now with input from GACIM the World Heritage values of this key site are finally being respected.