Posted by: Author | January 9, 2013

Madeira’s Capital Funchal

Capital Funchal
Points Of Interest
Madeira Funchal Marina
Funchal

Founded in 1425, Funchal was granted city status in 1508.

Many of its finest historical buildings are still intact, despite fire, piracy and earthquake. Named Funchal (“fennel”) because of the wild fennel plants found growing in abundance by the first settlers, Madeira’s capital sits on the island’s southern coast in a natural amphitheatre, hemmed in by cliffs to the east and west, and steep green mountains to the north. Its streets are paved with black-and-white mosaics, and lined by blue-flowered jacaranda trees. Numerous public parks and private gardens make this a festive city of heady scents and colours, where architecture and nature are delightfully combined.

A Zona Velha Funchal was the first city since Roman times to be built by Europeans outside of Europe, and the Zona Velha (Old Town) is where it began. The original settlement was protected by the Fortaleza de São Tiago, now the Museum of Contemporary Art. Today, restaurants cluster around the Capela do Corpo Santo, where fishermen and shipbuilders once had their homes. A seafront promenade and park link the Old Town to the Monte cable car station and the covered market.
Carmo Quarter The Carmo Quarter lies between two of the three rivers that flow from mountain to sea through Funchal. As they pass through the city, their deep channels are overhung with purple and red bougainvillea. Linking the 17th-century Carmo Church, the Franco Museum and IBTAM is a warren of narrow streets, with fine buildings like the House of the Consuls.
Cathedral Quarter When Christopher Columbus came to stay with his friend João Esmeraldo in 1498, the cathedral and the Alfândega (Customs House) were still being built. Esmeraldo’s home has since been transformed into the City of Sugar Museum, and the Customs House, a short step away from the sociable pavement cafés surrounding the cathedral, has become Madeira’s regional  parliament building.
Around the Town Hall Chic clothing shops line the narrow pedestrian streets that stretch up in a grid from the cathedral to the city’s one and only open square, with its fountain, its flower sellers, and its fish-scale-patterned paving. Framing the square is the graceful Baroque Câmara Municipal (Town Hall) and the pretty, arcaded Bishop’s Palace, now the Museu de Arte Sacra (Museum of Sacred Art).
University Quarter Animated saints dance and gesticulate from niches in the façade of the marvel -lous Igreja do Colégio, the huge and ornately decorated Jesuit church whose ancient school build-ings have recently been restored to form the main campus of Madeira University. Exploring the six city blocks to the north and on either side of the campus, you will find old-fashioned bookshops, cobbled wine lodges, and some of Funchal’s oldest and most ornate tower houses.
Avenida Arriaga Wide and leafy Avenida Arriaga is lined with some of Funchal’s most prestigious public buildings. They include the offices of the regional government, the imposing Bank of Portugal building, the St Francis Wine Lodge, the tourist office and its nextdoor art gallery, and the flower-filled São Francisco Gardens on the north side. On the south side is the huge São Lourenço fortress with its battlemented walls, the Toyota showroom with its tiled exterior, the theatre and its chic café, and several good shopping arcades.
Rua da Carreira A stroll down Rua da Carreira reminds you why Funchal was once known as “Little Lisbon”. The elegant buildings of this bustling street, with their green shutters and ornamental iron balconies hung with plants, are a taste of the Portuguese capital. At No. 43, the Vicentes Museum, with its belle époque staircase, sets the theme. At the western end, a pretty casa de prazer (garden gazebo) sits on the corner of Rua do Quebra Costas, the street that leads to the secluded gardens of the Igreja Inglesa.
São Pedroand Santa Clara The streets north of Rua da Carreira have some of Funchal’s best museums. The Museu Municipal in Rua Mouraria has a pretty herb garden next to it, and the church of São Pedro is lined with 17th-century tiles. The steepCalçada de Santa Clara leads to the Freitas Museum, Santa Clara Convent  and the Quinta das Cruzes Museum. If you have energy left, keep on up to the Fortaleza do Pico for panoramic views.
Hotel Zone West of the city, you can stroll through a succession of parks and enjoy the varied architecture of the Art Deco mansions from the 1920s and 1930s lining the Avenida do Infante. As the road crosses the ravine of the Ribeira Seco and curves past Reid’s Palace, the island’s most prestigious hotel, mansions give way to big hotels which march along the clifftops above the city, interspersed with shopping centres and restaurants.
The Marina Everything in Funchal looks out to the sparkling sea and bustling harbour, where private yachts, container ships and cruise ships on transatlanticvoyages call in. A stroll along Avenida do Mar allows you to soak up the sunshine, sample coffee and cakes at the onion-domed kiosks along the seafront, or wander out along the marina walls for a different view of thecity.
Museu de Arte Contemporânea The 17th-century Fortaleza de São Tiago makes a superb setting for late 20th-century works of art.
Museu de Electricidade This former power station shows what heroic efforts were needed to bring electricity to the island.
Núcleo Museológico do Bordado The history of embroidery, tapestry and handicrafts on Madei-ra, with an introduction to the island’s colourful costumes.
Museu do Instituto do Vinho da Madeira Displays on wine production in the house of the Napoleonicera British consul Henry Veitch.
Palácio de São Lourenço The historic fortress has displays on the pirate Bertrand de Montluc.
Cemitério Britânico Protestants of all nations are buried in this garden-like cemetery whose ancient headstones tell many a poignant story.
Fortaleza do Pico The stiff uphill walk to the 17th-century Peak Fortress is rewarded by sweeping views and a one-room museum on the history of Funchal’s defences.
Lido Promenade A new seafront promenade follows the clifftops west of the city from the Lido to Praia Formosa, with landscaped gardens and ever-changing views.
Museu do Brinquedo From 19th-century china dolls to 1980s plastic Barbies, over 100 years of toy history, with a
huge collection of miniature cars. There is a restaurant on the ground floor.
Museu
Barbeito Cristóvão Colombo
One man’s passion for Columbus led to this collection of historicbooks, engravings and portraits.
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