Funchal Cathedral

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Date of travel

May, 2019

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The Se cathedral was built under the orders of King Manuel I and on land given by him, between 1485-1514, replacing an earlier church in the old town, which was too small to hold the growing population. It become a cathedral in 1519 when Funchal attained city status. It is late Gothic architecture with nave and side aisles and is one of the few buildings to have survived relatively untouched.

The exterior is striking, stark white with a massive deep brown basalt west end and tower top with a variegated tile roof.

The dark and light theme continues in the nave with arcades of dark basalt pillars separating nave and side aisles. Windows are narrow lancets with plain glass. The wood nave ceiling has carved beams and different colours of inlaid wood, although it is a bit too dark to appreciate with the naked eye..

The side walls are lined with altars with impressive Baroque reredos, but these almost fade into insignificance compared to the chancel and high altar which covers all of the chancel. Dating 1510-1515, this is only intact Manueline altarpiece still in its place of origin. It is “glorious “: with a series of magnificent gold framed paintings set around a gilded statue of the Virgin.

Above is an equally impressive Mudéjar ceiling with its geometric and animal designs carved from juniper and cedar and inlaid with ivory.

The “carved figures”: of saints, prophets and apostles all in C16th clothes, on the choir stalls have recently been restored and regilded.
There is another equally impressive altar in the chapel to the right of the chancel, reached through iron gates.

To the left of the chancel is a passageway with vaulted ceiling that led to the old sacristy beneath the tower.

We unfortunately only had about 15 minutes to enjoy the inside of the church as mass was about the begin.

Check “opening times”: before visiting as they do vary depending on which website you look at… Group visits are allowed between 9-11am and the cathedral does get very busy then.

There are more pictures “here.”:

All my pictures of Madeira are “here.”:


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