Local Information
Funchal was made a city on 21 August 1508 by Royal Charter issued by King Manuel I. It is the most important business, tourist and cultural in the Madeira Archipelago. Its name comes from a sweet-smelling wild herb called Foeniculum vulgare, more commonly known as fennel, which was abundant there when the first settlers arrived. Funchal is the largest municipality in the region and has 10 parishes. The city of Funchal has plenty of leisure activities to offer. You can visit its magnificent gardens, wander through its picturesque streets and squares with Portuguese cobblestone pavements or simply stop and relax at one of the pavement cafés in the city centre. Funchal's museums and historical buildings are also well worth a visit and there are art galleries with works by national and international artists.
The capital of the archipelago is on Madeira's south coast, in a beautiful bay washed by the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by tall, green mountains and deep valleys.
The sea breeze around the city's bay invites you to come and call at Funchal Marina, full of vessels from all over the world.
The settlement of the island began more than five centuries ago in the traditional, colourful Santa Maria neighbourhood, where the street of that name, built in 1430, is the oldest thoroughfare in the city. The narrow cobbled streets and the restored façades of the old buildings invite us to take a stroll to the traditional Mercado dos Lavradores. Added to the exuberant colours of the flower sellers' outfits is the exotic mixture of subtropical fruits and vegetables. At the fish market, the scabbard fish and huge, exotic tuna on display beside more common types of fish are a great attraction. In this neighbourhood, on the way to Forte de São Tiago, now occupied by the Contemporary Art Museum, you will find a variety of cafés and restaurants, some fado houses, the Madeira cable car building, the starting point for the cable car up the city's hillsides to Monte, the small Corpo Santo Chapel and the Barreirinha Bathing Complex, with access to the sea. Nearby is the Church of Santa Maria Maior, which dates back to 1803, also known as Igreja do Socorro.
Half way between Monte and Poiso is the Funchal Ecological Park, which occupies about 1,000 hectares. In this park, you will find Pico Alto, in the Ribeira das Cales area, with its excellent belvedere looking out over Funchal, and Chão da Lagoa which will take you to two of the highest points in Madeira, Pico do Areeiro (1,810 metres) and Pico Ruivo (1,862 metres). We recommend a walk to Poço da Neve, a kind of stone igloo, built 1,600 metres above sea level, which was once used to store ice gathered from the winter snow and hail.
More information about Madeira
- Madeira's Official Tourism Website
- Madeira Web
- 3D Funchal
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