Wander in the streets of the Funchal, the capital city of Madeira!
Funchal, the capital city of the Portuguese autonomous region of Madeira is a beautiful city, great to wander through as its quaintness and cultural heritage, witness of the Portuguese development and settlement on the island. A walk in this emblematic city located on the southern coast of "The Flower Island" is highly recommended when enjoying a Madeira walking tour!
When was the island of Madeira discovered?
First mentioned by the romans, the island was first discovered by the Portuguese navigators (Henri the Navigator, Joao Gonçalves Zarco and tristao Vaz Texeira) in 1419, as they were pushed towards the island because of a strong storm. In the years that followed, Portuguese settlers started to settle on this island, first named “Ilha da Madeira” in an official document by 1430.
Where does the name Madeira come from?
“Madeira” is the Portuguese word for wood. The name was used to define this island as it was at the time covered with Laurisilva, which is a dense old-root forest/primary forest, that you can still see in some parts of the Flower Island.
What is the history of this island?
Discovered by the Portuguese, this island grew in importance thanks to several aspects of its position in the Atlantic, its weather and landscape. Thanks to its weather, settlers were able to grow crops of wheat that allowed them, at first, to survive on the island, and later export grain to mainland Portugal. When the production of wheat plummeted, sugar cane was introduced in the farming environment of this island which lead the island to become the biggest sugar exporter in the world by the end of the 15th century. Thanks to this economic growth, more settlers arrived on the island, creating more villages, towns…. And allowed for the fast development of Funchal as the capital city of this island. In the last few centuries, tourism and Madeiran wine production helped the island to continue its economic and social development, as both of these activities became fashionable in the 18th and 19th century. The development of Funchal, as a whole, is strongly linked to the economic growth of this island and also the social environment in Europe. Its expansion allowed Funchal to absorb surrounding villages that have now become neighbourhoods of this city. Funchal is the biggest city in Madeira and the 6th biggest in Portugal
How is Funchal nowadays?
Funchal is a vibrant city of around 110 000 souls. Perched on the flank of the mountain, it overlooks the bay of Funchal. The city is relatively spread but wherever you go, you will see the Manueline and Portuguese colonial influence on the local architecture. Wandering in the streets of this city is therefore a great way to discover and experience the Madeiran lifestyle.
With many sites and monuments, and of course, some incredible botanical gardens such as the Jardim Tropical do Monte Palace and the Jardim Botanico da Madeira, discover by foot the lush greenery that flourishes on this island. Home to a botanical nursery, as many plants across the world can grow in Madeira thanks to its great mild weather, and humidity.
Funchal and Madeira should definitely be on your bucket list if you want to enjoy one of the best walking tour experience ever!
Feel free to have a look at our Madeira walking tours!