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The Madeira archipelago is in the Atlantic Ocean, 500 km west of the Moroccan coast. It is made up of the islands of Madeira and Porto Santom but also of 2 wild and uninhabited islands: Selvagens and Desertas. There is no shortage of reasons to visit Madeira! This small island, which is 57 km long and 22 km wide, charms visitors with its lush, green vegetation and stunning scenery.
Funchal, the capital and Madiera's main tourist city, is located on the south coast of the island, 23 km from the airport.
It is a city full of history - cosmopolitan, lively and modern. Its name comes from the word "funcho" (fennel) a wild plant which originally grew in abundance on the island. The city, built by the beach and rising in terraces, clings to a hill. It advances up the mountain's steep slopes covered with luxuriant gardens and multitude of red-tiled houses. Funchal has retained traces of its colonial past. It's great to wander the alleys and little squares of the old city. The baroque churches recall a rich Portuguese heritage.
Worth seeing in Funchal:
The Mercado dos Lavradores: one of the city's symbols. The market is located right in the heart of the historic centre. Colours, smells and tradition come together to welcome and enthral visitors. Combining Art Deco and Modernism, this market presents the best the island has to offer: the freshest and most exotic fruit, the most beautiful flowers, meats, fish, vegetables and spices, regionally sourced.
- The old city: creativity flourishes all year round in this part of town, with lively events making it the place to be to get a feel for the city. The Painted Door Project, for example, invites local artists to paint the doors and facades of buildings, transforming the streets into an open air art gallery. Its many restaurants and teeming nightlife also give this part of town a different feel and way of life.
- The Botanic Garden: located at Caminho do Meio, the garden holds more than 2,000 exotic plants from all over the world. Covering 35,000 m², the garden boasts more than 2,000 exotic plants, originating from every continent. Some of the botanic species are in danger of extinction. This beautiful Eden contains many decorative trees and shrubs, an area dedicated to orchids, lawns, panoramic viewpoints and an amphitheatre for leisure activities.
- Monte Palace Tropical Gardens: these gardens are at the peak of Monte's hill, with uninterrupted views over Funchal bay. Monte, a historic place dating back to the 18th century, has been transformed into a charming garden and museum, belonging to the Bernardo Foundation. Discover a wide diversity of exotic flowers and plants from all continents, as well as very varied wildlife including ducks, black and white swans, peacocks, chickens and Koi carp.
- In addition: the cathedral, the Convento de Santa Clara (monastery), São Tiago Fort, Saõ Lourenço Palace, the Frederico de Freitas Museum (magnificent collection of azulejos/ceramics), the CR7 Museum.
Things to do in Funchal: a Carros de Cesto ride (wicker sleds) is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Funchal. The sleds are handmade out of wicker and wood by craftsmen and pushed by two "carreiros". An unusual and authentic form of transport, which the inhabitants of the town of Monte once used to travel to the centre of Funchal. It's a descent like no other: 1.5 km at 40 km per hour. Information, tel: +351 291 783 919
Worth seeing on the island: on the south coast - Cabo Girão and wonderful cliffs, to the north west - the natural bathing pools of Porto Moniz.