Monte in Madeira

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Things to do


Date of travel

February, 2024

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During our holiday in Madeira we decided that on one of the days we would explore the island by travelling by public service bus. We purchased a Giro travel card from the local shop near to our hotel. You top it up – a bit like an Oyster card. It works out about 4€ a day. First, we travelled down to into Funchal old town. From Centro C Bom Jesus we boarded the Line 20 bus, which took us up to Monte.

This is a suburb which is 550 metres above the sea with fantastic panoramic views over the bay. By pre-booking at 15€ each you can visit the Monte Palace Tropical Garden which has a huge collection of plants from all over the world. There are also swans, peacocks, chickens and fish. In the museum there are sculptures, minerals and precious gems. Among the walkways there are many Moorish tiles. In fact, there is defintely too much to mention here at Monte Palace.

The church is Igreja da Nossa do Monte (Our Lady of Monte) and inside it is beautifully decorated with wall and ceiling paintings, statues and wall tiles. In 1470 the original chapel was built by Adao Ferreira, the first man to be born on Madeira island. Then another church was built on the site only to be destroyed by an earthquake in 1748. It was rebuilt in its present form in 1818. Emperor Charles 1 of Austria was laid to rest in the church. On 15th August 1551 a festival to Our lady was celebrated here and this has continued each year since. People gather to hear music and eat traditional food.

Monte is also the place to board a basket car to take you back down into Funchal called Associacao dos Carreiros do Monte. The cars are made of wicker and they slide on wooden skis. They are controlled by two men holding ropes at the back. They travel at great speed down the winding road. I travelled in one of those during my previous trip to Madeira and it was a great experience, but age and old bones put me off this time!

This year instead we took the orange bus back into town. These buses turn around in a square near to the shrine of Fontenario de Nossa Senhora de Monte or Fountain of the Virgin. This marble drinking fountain was originally built in 16th century and was improved later in 1777 by the English Consul Charles Murray who owned the surrounding land at the time. Now Monte is one of the more populated suburbs of Funchal, but also the most interesting to visit.


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