Funchal is the capital of subtropical Portuguese island of Madeira, which lies about 600 km from the African coast. The historic core of the city boasts beautiful government buildings, private houses with iron balconies and courtyards, splendid villas and lots of museums and galleries. This is why the city is also called “Little Lisbon.”
This picturesque port city was named after fennel, which grows here. It is a modern city and tourist center of the island. It has a beautiful beach promenade and is ideal for the lovers of history. Funchal is formed by the centre of the city, eastern old town of Zona Velha and western tourist area with hotels and restaurants. From the coastal side it is protected by the volcanic peaks. Green peaks create a beautiful background of the city.
The historic centre is full of narrow streets of cobblestone. Because of frequent traffic congestion it is better to move on foot here. The heart of Funchal is situated near Avenida Arriaga. You can find here a bustling port with a small fleet. The port was an important transport hub already in the 15th century, and you can still see the fishing and merchant ships here together with luxury ocean-going cruise ships. It is worth visiting the pier Ilheu de Pontinha, where you experience an unforgettable view of Funchal.
The most important monument of Funchal is its Cathedral of the 15th century, which is the work of architect Pêra Anes. It is one of the few buildings that remained almost untouched from the early days of colonization of the island. The cathedral has an interesting, relatively dark interior, where you can see the ceiling with Gothic arches and beautiful ceiling decorations of cedar wood in the Arab style. The cathedral features gilded altar or hand carved and decorated seats.
It is recommended to visit also the Botanical Gardens Jardim Botanico, situated on the steep slopes north of Funchal, which is formed into terraces. It was opened in 1960 and you can enjoy plants here from around the world.
Funchal boasts also several palaces, e.g. Quinta das Cruzes, or fortress Palacio de Sao Lourenco and lots of museums. If you wish to enjoy European culture out of Europe, then Funchal with other Madeira’s attractions is best tip for you!
View Funchal – the capital city of Madeira known as Little Lisbon | Portugal in a larger map