10 Interesting Places to Visit (Free Access)

1. FARMERS' MARKET

The Mercado dos Lavradores (Farmers' Market), which was designed by Edmundo Tavares (1892-1983), opened its doors on 24 November 1940. A testament to the architecture of the Estado Novo regime, the grandiose design of the building reflects its intended role as the main supplier of goods to the city.

Huge panels of tiles painted with regional themes by João Rodrigues and produced by Faiança Batisttini de Maria de Portugal in 1940 adorn the facade, the main entrance and the fish market. Inside, the space is organised into small “Plazas”, “Squares”, “Streets” and “Little Stairways”, where all types of products are sold.

Here you will find a feast of colours, sounds, smells and people.

On December 23 happens here the Night Market: throughout the night the Market and the streets around are overrun by people who sing and dance, eat and drink in a festive manner. During the day, around the market, regional fruits and vegetables are exposed impressively, and so may be made last minute shopping.

2. CITY'S OLD TOWN

History tells us that this is where the first settlement sprang up. The Old Town is characterised by narrow cobblestone streets and the facades of old houses and is considered an area of great historic and architectural value.

In the heart of the Old Town lies Corpo Santo Chapel, one of the few 15th-century buildings that has survived until today. One of the city’s oldest streets, Rua de Santa Maria, is also located in this area. It is the site of various local businesses, including the picturesque Fábrica de Chapéus [Hat Factory], which has been operating in the same location for over 60 years, and the Vilão Boot Factory.

A walk up this cobblestone street will take you to beautiful Socorro Church. At the top there is also small belvedere where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the city.

Nightlife in the Old Town is currently a great attraction where art and entertainment come together, as the streets in the area have been transformed by the work of local and foreign artists (through a project entitled “Arte de Portas Abertas”). The project represents one of the facets of urban art and culture in the city.

3. FUNCHAL CATHEDRAL

Located in the city centre, the Cathedral was built in the reign of Dom Manuel and features characteristics of Manueline and Gothic style.
Its facade, divided in three panels, has a beautiful Gothic portal in the central panel, composed by ashlar from Cabo Girão.

The Gothic portal features eight archivolts with pointed arches, giving an unique look to the entrance.
Over the years the Cathedral acquired new features, making it an artistic miscegenation example.

The ceiling is an outstanding example of Mudejar décor, made in island’s cedar wood, requiring special attention, as well as the choir chairs of the chancel.

4. SANTA CATARINA PARK

With a total area of 36,000 m², Santa Catarina Park offers stunning views of Funchal Bay and has several walking paths. The park offers nature lovers many species of flora from around the world and has an enchanting lake with a small island where ducks and swans are born and live.

This park has a children’s playground and there are also two old machines on display that were once used to crush grapes and asphalt roads, as well as sculptures of well known personalities and the Santa Catarina chapel. There is also a play room where children, if accompanied by an adult, can make drawings, play or read.

5. SÃO JOÃO EVANGELISTA CHURCH

Popularly known as the College Church, this church is a magnificent example of the 17th century Mannerist style.

With a beautiful collection of altarpieces in gilded wood and several paintings from various centuries, it is considered one of the most beautiful Portuguese temples of its era and one of the richest churches of the island of Madeira. Highlights of the church include its impressive organ, ceramic tiles that were produced in Lisbon workshops and chapels decorated with gilded wood, the highlight of which is the Chapel of the Eleven Thousand Virgins.

Its unique wind-guard door made of “caixa de açúcar” wood (repurposed sugar packing boxes), which is in the atrium, is flanked by two holy water fonts in the shape of sea shells. Statues of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Stanislaus and Saint Francis of Borgia adorn the church’s facade.

6. FUNCHAL MUNICIPAL GARDEN

Also known as Dona Amélia Garden in honour of the former queen of Portugal, the Funchal Municipal Garden is conveniently located in the city centre, north of Avenida Arriaga, on the site where the São Francisco Convent once existed. The convent’s coat of arms has survived until today and is displayed on one of the lawns. The garden overflows with flora from Madeira and many other parts of the world. It covers an area of 8,300 m² and has a lake and stream populated with fish and birds. There are also some works of art and an auditorium that serves as a venue for cultural activities.

7. FORTE SÃO TIAGO

In order to protect the city of Funchal from private attacks, in the middle of 1614, the construction of the São Tiago Fortress began. Its construction was the responsibility of the master builder Jerónimo Jorge and, years later, was completed by his son Bartolomeu João.

Under the responsibility of Engineer Tossi Columbina (author of the Funchal port project), the first phase of the works was completed in the 17th century and the second phase in the middle of the 18th century. Over the centuries, the Fortaleza will have been occupied for various purposes , from barracks to British troops, the Army Police and the Lancer Squadron in Funchal. It also served as a shelter for the victims of the flood that occurred on the island in 1803.

8. QUINTA VIGIA

Several important persons lived once in this villa including in 1849 the Russian Prince Maximilian, the Duke of Leuchtenberg and the son-in-law of Czar Nicolau I. In 1852 the Empress Dona Amélia and her daughter, Princess Dona Maria Amélia, who also died here in February 1853 of tuberculosis, moved to this villa.

Later, Nicolau Tulière inhabited the quinta, followed by the count Alexandre Carlos Lambert, adjutant of the Russian Empress, who also named it ‘Quinta Lambert’. Years later, in 1903, the local João Paulo Freitas bought the villa and changed its name back to ‘Quinta das Angústias’.

The original quinta disappeared in the 1970s to make way for a hotel, which the Regional Government acquired in 1979. At that time all remaining buildings and the gardens were completely remodelled.

In May 1984 the ‘Quinta Vigia’ became the Official Residence of the President of the Regional Government. It offers wonderful panoramic views over the harbour and harmoniously combines massive trees, palm trees, many specimens of indigenous flora as well as introduced plants and exotic birds in its gardens – a delight for all botanic lovers.

9. QUINTA DAS CRUZES GARDEN

At Quinta das Cruzes Garden, visitors can admire archaeological sculptures, including a tombstone that, according to tradition, covers the mortal remains of “Henry the German”. In the centre of the garden there are two magnificent 16th-century Manueline windows sculpted in basalt.

You can also visit the main house, which is linked to the figure of João Gonçalves Zarco, discoverer of Madeira and first appointed captain of Funchal, the chapel of Our Lady of Mercy, the archaeological garden, an orchid garden and various species of camphor trees, palm trees and Australian eucalyptus, among many others. Inside there is also a museum that you can visit for 3€.

10. MONTE MUNICIPAL PARK

Monte Municipal Park, also known as Leite Monteiro Park, covers an area of 26,000 m2 and lies at the highest altitude of all the municipal parks - between 543 and 586 meters above sea level. Construction on the park began in 1894 and the first phase was completed in 1899.
The site, which is covered by many indigenous and exotic species, including some centuries-old trees, is refreshing and relaxing, thanks in part to a stream that passes through it and ends at a waterfall at the southernmost area of the park. The pedestrian walkways that run through the park are paved with small basalt rocks ideal for pleasant strolls.


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