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Flag of Funchal
Coat of arms of Funchal
Location in Madeira
Location in Madeira
Coordinates: 32°39′N 16°55′W / 32.650°N 16.917°W / 32.650; -16.917
Country Portugal
Auton. regionMadeira
EstablishedSettlement: c. 1424
Town: c. 1452–1454
Municipality: c. 1508
 • PresidentCristina Pedra (PPD/PSD)
 • Total76.15 km2 (29.40 sq mi)
 • Total105,795
 • Density1,400/km2 (3,600/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC±00:00 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+01:00 (WEST)
Postal code
Area code291

Funchal (Portuguese pronunciation: [fũˈʃal] ) is the capital, largest city and the municipal seat of Portugal's Autonomous Region of Madeira, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. The city has a population of 105,795,[1] making it the sixth largest city in Portugal. Because of its high cultural and historical value, Funchal is one of Portugal's main tourist attractions; it is also popular as a destination for New Year's Eve, and it is the leading Portuguese port on cruise liner dockings.[1]


The first settlers named their settlement Funchal after the abundant wild fennel that grew there. The name is formed from the Portuguese word for fennel, funcho, and the suffix -al, to denote "a plantation of fennel":[2][3]

Funchal, to whom the captain gave this name, because it was founded in a beautiful forested valley, full of fennel up to the sea ...


Cathedral of Funchal (Sé Cathedral), constructed under the orders of D. Manuel, Duke of Beja, dating back to the 15th century
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This settlement began around 1424, when the island was divided into two captaincies. The zones that would become the urbanized core of Funchal were founded by João Gonçalves Zarco who settled there with members of his family. Owing to its geographic location, the site became an important maritime port and its productive soils attracted new settlers.[citation needed] Its coastal position, the most productive on the island, quickly permitted Funchal to develop an urban core and surpass the populations of other settlements.

In the early 15th century, Álvaro Fernandes became the commander of Funchal.

As part of its administrative role, the settlement received its primary lighthouse between 1452 and 1454, when it was elevated to the status of vila and municipal seat. Funchal became an important transfer point for European commercial interests. Christopher Columbus was one of the early settlers, but later many of the merchant families established commercial interests on the island, including: João d'Esmenaut from the Picardy region, the Lomelino from Genoa, the Mondragão from Biscay, the Acciauoli from Florence, the Bettencourts from France, the Lemilhana Berenguer from Valencia and many others.[citation needed]

During the second half of the 15th century, the sugar industry expanded significantly along the southern coast, from Machico until Fajã da Ovelha, making Funchal the most important industrial centre of the industry. By the end of the century, fronting the Order of Christ, D. Manuel, Duke of Beja, expanded the support of the local community; he ordered the construction of the administrative Paços do Concelho and the Paços dos Tabeliães (completed in 1491), raised the construction of a church (began in 1493 and later raised to cathedral in 1514), and finally the construction of a hospital and customs-house in the village. In 1508, it was elevated to the status of city by King Manuel I of Portugal, and in 1514 (on completion of the Sé Cathedral) the bishopric was headquartered in Funchal.

A cityscape of Funchal, 1834 as seen from the Bay
Funchal, 1907

The island, and Funchal specifically, were vulnerable to privateers and pirate attacks.[citation needed] In September 1566, French corsairs under the command of Bertrand de Montluc, a gentleman in the court of Charles IX of France and second-son of Field Marshal Blaise de Montluc, departed from Bordeaux with a force of 1200 men, on a small fleet of three main ships and eight support craft. The armada sacked Porto Santo. When the news was relayed to the settlements on Madeira and the villas of Machico and Santa Cruz, the citizenry armed themselves. In Funchal, the governor, Francisco de Sales Gonçalves Zarco da Câmara, did not take any hostile action. Meanwhile, the armada anchored off the beach of Formosa, disembarked a contingent of 800 men that marched towards the city in three columns, encountering no resistance until the main bridge in São Paulo.[citation needed] At the bridge the privateers encountered a force from the small fort, with a few small-caliber pieces, which were quickly routed in confusion. At the road near Carreira, the attackers were confronted by a small group of Franciscan friars, who were quickly dispatched. Funchal's fortifications were finally assaulted by land, where its defense was thin; the defenders could not even reposition many of the cannons directed towards the sea. The city suffered a violent sack that lasted fifteen days, after which little remained.[citation needed]

The following year, the military architect Mateus Fernandes III was sent to Funchal in order to completely modify the defensive system of the city. Evidence of the work produced by this architect was published in the "Mapa de Mateus Fernandes" (1573), considered to be the oldest plan of the island of Funchal.[4] The document identifies the major defenses of the city, which included a large fortification in the area around the dyke in Pena.

During the 16th century, Funchal was an important stop-over for caravels travelling between the Indies and the New World.[citation needed]

Overlook of Quinta Vigia, now the Regional Government's Presidential Palace, towards the then port of Funchal
View of Funchal's bay in 1936

The wine culture appeared during early settlement, through the incentives from Henry the Navigator. By 1455, the Venetian navigator, Luís de Cadamosto, on visiting Madeira, referred to the excellence of the Madeirense wines, principally the Malvasia castes from the island of Crete, which were being exported in greater numbers. By the end of the 16th century, the celebrated English poet and playwright, William Shakespeare, cited the important export and notoriety of the Madeiran Malvasia castes: in Richard III the Duke of Clarence, the brother of King Edward IV selected a death by drowning in a barrel of Madeira.[citation needed] Later, in Shakespeare's Henry IV he has Poins censure Falstaff for having sold his soul to the devil for a cup of Madeira wine. The growth of viticulture in Madeira expanded when the sugar industry was attacked by cheaper exports from the New World and Africa, but also from various epidemics and the after-effects of the 1566 privateer sacks.[citation needed] In the 17th century, commercial treaties with England brought increased investments to a business that was still insular. Many commercial wine-makers from England moved to the island, changing the economy, architecture forms and lifestyle of the community. This incremental growth expanded the city with new estates, and a new merchant class that populated the urban quarters. Generally, there were many new three-floor homes with an intermediary service floor, a floor for storage and wine-cellars, and in some cases a tower to watch the port and monitor shipping in the harbour. Various island governors and the convents participated in commercial viticulture.[citation needed] The Companhia de Jesus developed the vast estate of Campanário, which extended from the city to Fajã dos Padres into one of the most successful wines on the island, whereas the nuns of Santa Clara, owners of some large parcels of land, entered into the wine industry, financing the ships that would take their wines to Brazil (and exchanging them for sugar for their sweets business). But, during the 19th century there were epidemics, aggravating the economy and forcing some to return to sugar plantations. In order to maintain the level of development, many landowners tried to plant new more-resistant castes, but of an inferior quality, in order to support the industry.[citation needed]

A few of the notable visitors to the region were Elisabeth, empress of Austria-Hungary, 1837–1898 (who travelled to the island for leisure and health), Charles I of Austria (who was exiled), Emperor of Austria and king of Hungary, 1867–1918, Polish Field Marshal Józef Piłsudski in order to recuperate his health, Winston Churchill (who travelled there on holidays and was known to have painted a few paintings during his visits) and Fulgencio Batista (who stopped over en route to his exile in Spain).[citation needed] The presence of these notable visitors marked a period when Funchal became a center of tourism and therapeutic health.[citation needed] With the formal creation of the Port of Funchal, and later the establishment of the Santa Catarina Airport, Funchal turned into a major international tourist destination supported by a series of hotels and ocean-front residences.


Promenade in southwest Funchal

Physical geography

Funchal is located inside a natural amphitheatre-shaped valley, with gentle slopes beginning at the coast which rise to 1200 metres and provide a natural shelter for early settlers

In addition to the urbanized area, the municipality includes the Ilhas Selvagens (English: Savage Islands), a nature reserve located 294 km (183 mi) south of the capital.


According to the Köppen climate classification, Funchal has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa) bordering on a tropical savanna climate (Köppen: As). It is the warmest city in Portugal, with an annual temperature of 20.1 °C (68.2 °F).

The climate can be divided into two main seasons: a warm dry summer season spanning from May to September with average daily high temperatures ranging from 22 to 26 °C (72 to 79 °F), and a cool wet winter season from October to April with average daily high temperatures ranging from 20 to 25 °C (68 to 77 °F). The city has warm temperatures all year round, and humidity levels remain constantly high at about 70%.

Sea temperatures range from a low of 18 °C (64 °F) in February–March to 24 °C (75 °F) in August–October.[5]

Since the city rises from the sea level up to altitudes of 800 metres (2,600 ft) on its northern slopes, it is quite common to experience cloudiness, fog and rain in the northern suburbs while, at the same time, having clear skies in the south. Temperatures also tend to be slightly lower at the higher altitudes.

Early summer, especially June, tends to be quite infamous due to a phenomenon where persistent cloudiness covers the entire bay area of the city, similar to the June Gloom phenomenon, locally nicknamed "Funchal's helmet". The length and severity of the wet and dry seasons varied greatly from year to year.

Climate data for Funchal Observatory, 1991–2020 (extremes 1961-2020), altitude: 58 m (190 ft)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 25.5
Mean maximum °C (°F) 21.8
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 19.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 17.2
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 14.6
Mean minimum °C (°F) 11.6
Record low °C (°F) 8.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 98.7
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 9.2 8.3 9.6 6.6 5.2 2.4 0.9 1.4 5.1 9.7 10.5 12.0 80.9
Average relative humidity (%) 71 70 68 68 70 73 73 72 71 71 70 70 71
Mean monthly sunshine hours 161 167 198 195 209 194 233 237 211 194 166 151 2,316
Average ultraviolet index 4.0 5.9 8.0 9.7 10.4 11.0 10.8 10.1 8.6 7.2 4.7 3.4 7.8
Source 1: Météo Climat[6] Infoclimat[7] (average daily max UV recorded in 2015-2020)[8][9]
Source 2: NOAA (humidity 1961–1990),[10] German Meteorological Service (sunshine 1991-2020)[11][12]

Climate change

A 2019 paper published in PLOS One estimated that under Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5, a "moderate" scenario of climate change where global warming reaches ~2.5–3 °C (4.5–5.4 °F) by 2100, the climate of Funchal in the year 2050 would most closely resemble the current climate of Rabat in Morocco. The annual temperature and the temperature of the warmest and coldest month would all increase by 1.9 °C (3.4 °F), putting the coldest and warmest months above 18 to 24 °C (64 to 75 °F).[13][14] According to Climate Action Tracker, the current warming trajectory appears consistent with 2.7 °C (4.9 °F), which closely matches RCP 4.5.[15]

Human geography

Panoramic view of Funchal Bay during sunset, taken from Ponta do Garajau.
A leisure park in Lido, in São Martinho
Sea Port of Funchal
Lido, Funchal's hotel zone
Town hall

The urbanised core of the city of Funchal includes several of the civil parishes that surround the municipality (Câmara de Lobos, Santa Cruz, Machico and Ribeira Brava), and includes a population of 150,000 inhabitants, the largest Portuguese city outside of mainland Portugal. The municipality itself is a grouping of several smaller administrative entities, that includes Funchal, Câmara de Lobos, Caniço and Santa Cruz, located along the southern coast of Madeira. Funchal is a cosmopolitan and panoramic city, with parks, shops and hotels.

The municipality (Portuguese: concelho) and city (Portuguese: cidade) are one administrative division, administered by an executive and legislative committee in the city hall. Local communities, are administered at the civil parish levels, through their own legislative bodies and executives. Funchal comprises ten civil parishes (Portuguese: freguesias) based on traditional religious districts (Portuguese: paróquias):

  • Imaculado Coração de Maria – a northern suburb, it is one of the smaller parishes in area, with the highest concentrations of residents (6951 residents in 2001);
  • Monte – originally a summer refuge for the wealthy, due to its mild climate, Monte is symbolised by the toboggan drivers that race tourists down to the central town; today it is one of the more populated areas of Funchal with over 7500 inhabitants;
  • Santa Luzia – one of the four urban suburbs of Funchal, developed from urban sprawl that expanded into the hinterland; today there are more than 6600 inhabitants in these foothills;
  • Santa Maria Maior – named from the first episcopal divisions on the island, it along with Sé were the first faith communities to develop, concentrating along the coast in the church of Nossa Senhora do Calhau;
  • Santo António – the most populated civil parish in the municipality, developed from the concentration of small artisan shops, that developed until the 16th century; today the population includes approximately 22,000 residents;
  • São Gonçalo – named after the explorer Gonçalo Aires Ferreira, in service to João Gonçalos Zarco, the lands of the parish were once the personal domains of this settler, who later took on the anointed name by its residents, due to his piety;
  • São Martinho – its first settler Afonso Anes was responsible for the first artisanal and commercial buildings in the area, that was primarily sagricultural in scope; today the highly urbanized area pertains to 20,000 inhabitants and includes the hotel zone of Funchal known as Lido (named after the Lido Bathing Complex);
  • São Pedro – central to the business and residential character of Funchal, São Pedro is a bedroom community of Sé, with 7681 residents;
  • São Roque – deannexed from Sé under the authority of Cardinal Infante Henriques, the prelate of Funchal constructed this parish from sections of São Pedro and São Martinho;
  • – the historical centre of Funchal, and most developed, including many of the older buildings; its population is less than 2148 residents (2001).


Famous cable car ride between Funchal and Monte, high up on Funchal's mountains

Madeira Airport, often known as Funchal Airport (code: FNC) and officially Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport, is located east of the city, in the municipality of Santa Cruz. The airport was one of the most dangerous airports in the world[16][17] due to the limited flat space in close proximity to cliffs, but the extension of the runway on concrete pillars in the sea has improved safety.

The Port of Funchal was the only major port in Madeira. Since 2007 it has been fully dedicated to passenger transport (cruise ships and ferries) and other tourist-related boats and yachts. In that year all remaining fishing activity and cargo trade was moved to the newly developed port of Caniçal, 12 mi (19 km) to the east.[18]

A ferry service between Funchal and Portimão, on the mainland, provided by Naviera Armas sailed weekly from 2008, but was discontinued in 2013 due to a dispute over harbour fees. In summer 2018 it was re-instated, but as a seasonal service from July to September, being operated by Grupo Sousa using Naviera Armas's ship Volcán de Tijarafe, that provided the crossing prior to the 2013 discontinuation, with a maximum speed of 23 knots. The crossing takes around 24 hours.[19]

A ferry runs in two hours between Funchal and Porto Santo Island, called the Lobo Marinho.[20] Funchal is frequently used as a stop-over by transatlantic ships, en route from Europe to the Caribbean, as it is the northernmost Atlantic island that lies in the path of the Westerlies.

A highway provides access to Câmara de Lobos and Ribeira Brava to the west, and Santa Cruz, Machico and Caniçal to the east.


A toboggan ride going down Monte
Aljube Street

Today Funchal is a major tourist town, with hotels, port, and an international airport Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport (FNC), located in the nearby municipality of Santa Cruz.

Besides the city of Funchal, tourist destinations include: Ribeira Brava, Curral das Freiras, Porto Moniz, Santana, the Laurisilva forest, a UNESCO Natural Site, in the centre of Madeira Island and the beaches in Porto Santo island. There is also a passenger gondola lift (Funchal Cable Car), that transports people from the lower section of the city to the suburb of Monte and another that runs between Monte and the Botanical Gardens.


Funchal has many Museums, such as the:-

  • Casa-Museu Frederico de Freitas
  • Núcleo Museológico da Cidade do Açúcar
  • Museu Barbeito
  • Museu CR7
  • Museu de Electricidade (Museum of Electricity)
  • Museu de Arte Contemporânea do Funchal
  • Sacred Art Museum of Funchal
  • Museu de Fotografia – Vicentes
  • Museu do Forte de S. Tiago
  • Museu do Vinho da Madeira
  • Museu Henrique e Francisco Franco
  • Museu de História Natural do Funchal
  • Museu Quinta das Cruzes
  • Museu Sala de Troféus do Clube Sport Marítimo
  • Núcleo Museológico do IVBAM
  • Núcleo Museológico do Museu Militar Palácio São Lourenço
  • Núcleo Museológico Mary Jane Wilson


The Igreja do Colégio interior featuring Baroque architecture, Funchal's City Square

The Episcopal see (diocese) of the Roman Catholic bishop of Funchal includes the entirety of the Autonomous Region of Madeira, and is a suffragan see under the Archdiocese of Lisbon. Its focus is the Sé Cathedral, located in civil parish of , dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Assunção (English: Our Lady of the Assumption) while its patron saint is Saint James.

Anglican services have been held at Holy Trinity Church in Funchal (Rua do Quebra Costas) since 1822, although the first recorded Protestant service took place in 1774.[21] The Holy Trinity Church also takes care of the British Cemetery of Funchal.

Funchal Baptist Church was established in Madeira in 1976. It is located at Rua Silvestre Quintino de Freitas, and provides English services in the morning and Portuguese in the evening.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established on Madeira in 1983. A few congregations have developed and a number of island converts have served missions off-island for the church in turn. Its main chapel in Lido was commenced in 1987 and dedicated a few years later.

The Synagogue of Funchal was built in 1836, but is now disused.[22] There is the Jewish Cemetery of Funchal which is also disused.


Funchal has three association football clubs: Marítimo, Nacional and União. Together they form the Madeira derby which was first played in 1981 due to the teams being in different league levels for 7 decades.

Street art

Since 2011, the project "ArT of opEN doors project in Rua de Santa Maria" has been implemented in Funchal.[23][24][25][26][27][28] The aims of the project is to "open" the city to artistic and cultural events. The project was born by the hand of many artists who were coordinated with the city council and decided to take it out on the streets of the Old Town, particularly in the Rua de Santa Maria.The doors of houses, abandoned shops, deteriorated areas received a new life, in order to sensitize people, towards the art and culture that fills these spaces.

Twin towns – sister cities

Penha de França, western zone of Funchal

Funchal is twinned with:[29]

Notable people

Alberto João Jardim, 2018
Maximiano de Sousa
Herberto Helder, 2010

Public service



Museum in Funchal dedicated to Cristiano Ronaldo, born in the city in 1985

See also


  1. ^ a b "Cruise tourism in Portugal | PIANC Mediterranean Days" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 January 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  2. ^ Frutuoso, G.; de Azevedo, A.R. (1873), As Saudades da terra (in Portuguese), Typ. funchalense, p. 39
  3. ^ "Funchal. I Origem do nome" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 October 2021. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  4. ^ "Cidade do Funchal e a sua Evolução Espacial". Archived from the original on 7 June 2007. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
  5. ^ "Funchal Sea Temperature". Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  6. ^ "Météo Climat stats Portugal (Madère)" (in French). Météo Climat. Retrieved 10 October 2023.
  7. ^ "Climatologie de l'année à Funchal/S. Catarina" (in French). Infoclimat. Retrieved 10 October 2023.
  8. ^ "Índice Ultravioleta, na Estação Meteorológica Funchal / Observatório - 2015-2020". Direção Regional de Estatística da Madeira. Retrieved 10 January 2022.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Série retrospetiva da informação meteorológica (1976-2019)". Direção Regional de Estatística da Madeira. Retrieved 19 December 2021.
  10. ^ "Funchal Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Monthly Averages for Funchal". DwD.
  12. ^ "Monthly Averages for Funchal". DwD.
  13. ^ Bastin, Jean-Francois; Clark, Emily; Elliott, Thomas; Hart, Simon; van den Hoogen, Johan; Hordijk, Iris; Ma, Haozhi; Majumder, Sabiha; Manoli, Gabriele; Maschler, Julia; Mo, Lidong; Routh, Devin; Yu, Kailiang; Zohner, Constantin M.; Thomas W., Crowther (10 July 2019). "Understanding climate change from a global analysis of city analogues". PLOS ONE. 14 (7). S2 Table. Summary statistics of the global analysis of city analogues. Bibcode:2019PLoSO..1417592B. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0217592. PMC 6619606. PMID 31291249.
  14. ^ "Cities of the future: visualizing climate change to inspire action". Current vs. future cities. Retrieved 8 January 2023.
  15. ^ "The CAT Thermometer". Retrieved 8 January 2023.
  16. ^ Jhaveri, Vidhi. "16 Most Dangerous Airports of The World for Runway Thrills!". holidify. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  17. ^ Kilo, Sierra (17 August 2020). "Top 10 most dangerous airports in the world 2020". Aviatech Channel.
  18. ^ "Portos da Madeira" (in Portuguese). Administração dos Portos da Região Autónoma da Madeira. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  19. ^ "Ferry Madeira-Portimão: Bilhetes disponíveis a partir de hoje A primeira viagem realiza-se a 2 de julho mas os bilhetes vão estar disponíveis já a partir desta terça-feira (Vídeo)". 12 June 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  20. ^ " – Things to do: "Lobo Marinho"". Archived from the original on 12 September 2017. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  21. ^ "The Church". Holy Trinity Church, Funchal. 25 August 2010. Archived from the original on 24 February 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  22. ^ Dysch, Marcus (7 April 2009). "Madeira: Peace in the land of Ronaldo". The Jewish Chronicle Online. Archived from the original on 2 May 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  23. ^ "Projecto artE pORtas abErtas - Funchal - Projecto artE pORtas abErtas - Funchal".
  24. ^ "Open Doors Art in Funchal ::".
  25. ^ "Painted Doors Project".
  26. ^ "Opening Doors With Art In Madeira, Portugal". HuffPost. 13 July 2012.
  27. ^ "The painted doors of Funchal". Travelling Claus. 11 November 2014.
  28. ^ "ArT of opEN doors". 24 August 2014.
  29. ^ "Acordos de Geminação". (in Portuguese). Funchal. Archived from the original on 18 May 2022. Retrieved 29 June 2022.
  30. ^ Hoe, Susanna (2004). Madeira: Women, History, Books and Places. Oxford, UK: Holo. p. 129. ISBN 9780953773084.


  • Fructuoso, Gaspar (1966) [1873]. Saudades da Terra (in Portuguese). Vol. 2. Ponta Delgada, Azores: Instituto Cultural de Ponta Delgada.


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