This is an attractive church, at the far end of Rua Santa Maria in the old town and well away from the tourist bustle and restaurants.
It s a typical Madeiran church with a stark black and white exterior. It is a big church and almost impossible to photograph with the trees. Above the doorway is a white marble statue of Our Lady, explaining why it is also referred to as Igreja de Santa Maria Maior on some sites.
The church was built in 1768, replacing an earlier church that was heavily damaged in an earthquake. Only the carved doors into the church survive.
After the bright sunshine, the inside can seem quite dark at first with the only natural light coming in through the doors, two small windows above them and the small stained glass window in the chancel. This is one of the few examples of stained glass in a Madeiran church. There are two electric lights at the back of the church and a floodlight in the chancel.
The main altar takes up the whole of the east wall and the word impressive hardly describes it. It is a wonderful example of OTT Baroque work with a massive wedding cake style tabernacle. There are two smaller, but equally as good altars on either side of the chancel arch.
There is plenty else to enjoy too with a painted ceiling and pulpit. There are lovely picture azulejo tiles on the chancel walls and a tiled baptistry at the back of the church.
The church is open 9.30-12.30 and 2-6. It is free to enter and worth finding but be warned it is reached up a steep set of steps.
All my Madeira pictures are “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/otherholidays/madeira/index.html