I’ve so far covered the wonderful seaside and the lush western area of the great city of Funchal. In this article I am going tell you about the center of the city, its heart. This area was as suffered many changes throughout the years, some of them were required after the storms of 2010 flooded the two rivers that meet right at the center of the city and caused major destruction.
Exactly at the center of Funchal the two rivers, Santa Luzía and João Gomes, meet themselves and the sea at Praça da Autonomia. This square celebrates Madeira’s autonomous state and is a meeting point for many different people, locals or foreign, since it serves as a connecting point between the western, more modern area, and the eastern, more historical area.
Right next to Praça da Autonomia is the ruins fo an old fort, called Forte de São Filipe, and this discovery is a fairly recent one, since in this location used to be an underground parking area that was destroyed by the floods, and only after its reconstruction it was found the ruins under it. Now they are on full display for everyone to see!
Before going up the beautiful avenues that follow the rivers, I just wanted to mention that right on the left of Praça da Autonomia is a small square called Portas da Cidade, that has a reconstruction of the old, original city gates, except for the emblem of the city which is not a reconstruction! It is actually the original carving done for the gates, still preserved and on display! And above it is the Praça de Colombo, or Praça Amarela as the locals called it, due to the buildings around it being painted yellow, this square isn’t huge but its colors are sure to brighten your day! And there are good tea shops there!
Continue to go up the square, you’ll meet the Sé of Funchal, the cathedral. This amazing construction is located on Avenida Arriaga, a beautiful avenue, full of trees, fancy cafés and small vendors that sell local produce, especially during the Christmas fair! This avenue also connects with the Municipal Park from the last article!
But the Sé itself is marvelous, on the inside you’ll meet a beautiful wooden carved ceiling and at the alter the golden colors of its decor will amaze you! It is no wonder that this cathedral is so important for the citizens of Funchal, and for many other citizens of Madeira, as they make all sorts of celebrations here, one of the biggest being the blessing of the students who finish high-school, since many of them will leave the island to study on the mainland. This celebration is huge, it gathers all the students from the city’s high-schools and they parade to the cathedral together.
Now to finish we go back to the rivers and go up the avenues to find Rua Fernão Ornelas, considered by the locals to be the most important street in terms of commerce, so be sure to check it out if you’re into some local shopping. This beautiful and busy street meets both rivers on each end.
Here ends the third part of this journey, the fourth and last is next, exploring the older zone to east and the market of Funchal.
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