The “flower island” Madeira, about 1,000 km southwest of Lisbon in the Atlantic Ocean, is ideal for a holiday of the more idyllic and leisurely nature … even if the landscape is partly characterized by rugged lava rocks, rough rock formations and rugged cliffs. In contrast to this, however, there are countless and diverse flowers with often lush, magnificent blossoms. Between barren, gray rock and brightly colored flowers, you will encounter natural rocky bays, vineyards, picturesque villages, colorful thatched houses, for which the island is known, and also the traditional Madeiran way of life. You can get to know the latter extensively in Funchal – and in a unique location, because the capital rises like an amphitheater, from a bay. A visit to Funchal is also worthwhile because of the pleasant atmosphere in the narrow streets with cozy cafés, nice restaurants and pretty little shops, but also for the market hall and a winery where you can taste the famous Madeira wine. And finally, from here you have the opportunity to take the cable car to Monte to visit the pilgrimage church, the tomb of the last Habsburg emperor and the wonderful Jardins do Imperador gardens and enjoy a beautiful view. A varied picture of Madeira can also be gained by driving on the coastal road from São Vicente to Seixal. Not far from Seixal you will also find an unusual lava swimming pool in Porto Moniz as a bathing facility,
Botanical garden in Funchal
Madeira is also known as the Flower Island and the Botanical Garden near Funchal makes it clear why that is so. Therefore, a trip to this sight should be included on tours through the country.
The botanical garden is halfway between the island’s capital Funchal and the town of Monte. Due to its altitude, Monte was a popular climatic health resort for a long time, which up until the Second World War mainly attracted the upper class and wealthy tourists.
Monte has long been connected to Funchal by a cable car. For some years now, a gondola lift has also been running from the higher Monte to the Botanical Garden. On this route you have a great view of the bay, the city of Funchal and the region with its abundance of plants.
The park had been under discussion for a long time, but it wasn’t opened until 1960. It was built on a plot of land that was formerly owned by William Reid, who immigrated from Scotland. Reid made a fortune from the wine and real estate trade in the second half of the 19th century and then worked as a hotelier. A natural history museum is now housed in his former manor house on the park area. It is located immediately after the entrance.
Structure and special features
The park is home to more than 2,000 exotic plants and is divided into several themed areas. There is an area for endemic plants and another with trees that are found around the world and in the most remote areas. In the third area, tropical plants and medicinal plants are presented, the fourth is reserved for succulents. The offer is rounded off by an attached bird park with around 350 exotic birds.
Thus, this impressive park enables imaginary journeys into the diverse flora and fauna of the whole world. It extends over 80,000 square meters, the terrain is slightly sloping, and there are always beautiful views of the Bay of Funchal.
Sé Cathedral in Funchal / Madeira
A sight on the flower island Madeira is the cathedral Sé in the capital Funchal. It is the most important church on the island and a major attraction for both locals and tourists. Study trips in particular find their way here to admire the church’s valuable carvings.
History and architectural styles of the cathedral
Its actual name is Sé Catedrale de Nossa Senhora da Assunção. At the end of the 15th century, Madeira wanted to enlarge the old church, as the worshipers no longer fit into the church. But this conversion was unsuccessful and so it was decided to build a new one. In the early 16th century, the construction of the church began on Campo do Duque. The foundation stone was laid by the Portuguese King Manuel I.. The late Gothic building was built under the direction of the stonemason Gil Enes and the carpenter Péro Annes. In 1517 the church was officially consecrated as a cathedral.
Elements of Moorish, Gothic and Manueline architecture mix here. There are also peculiarities of Madeiran construction. The interior of the cathedral is occupied by ten Gothic arches that connect the naves. Six Gothic chapels are built into the side aisles. Eight Manueline window hatches on the side walls and narrow, elongated windows above the sanctuary let only little light into the interior. A triumphal arch leads to the altar, on each side of which two rows of wooden seats are lined up. The higher ones were reserved for the canons, the lower ones for the chaplains. Beautiful carvings with images of apostles and prophets can be seen on the seats and armrests. The altarpiece consists of gilded carvings with small sculptures.
The chapel behind the altar is covered with a fascinating mural consisting of various picture panels decorated with gold frames. The baptismal font, the pulpit and the small high altar date from the time of King Manuel. The impressive ceiling decoration is made from local woods and is one of the most beautiful in Portugal.