Funchal

funchalFunchal is the capital of the Madeira Islands of Portugal and is also the largest city on all of the islands. This modern city attracts hundreds and thousands of visitors every year due to its uniqueness. The natural geological features form an “amphitheatre” surrounding the city, something you won’t find in many other places around the world. As well as this the city is said to have been named as such because of the abundance of fennel (funcho in Portuguese) that was growing there.

A holiday in Funchal is ideal because not only is it beautiful, but with such a wide range of things to see it takes a good few days to explore the vast natural heritage of the city. Santa Maria should particularly appeal to holiday – makers as it was one of the first areas of the islands to be inhabited and therefore presents an interesting architectural homogeneity. Since 1986 the Historical Nucleus of Santa Maria has been a classified zone and many restoration and reconstruction works have been done to it since then. You can now find a cable car station, the new green zone Almirante Reis, hotels, banks, underground car parks and more which you wouldn’t have been able to find some years ago. Due to the fact that Funchal has only recently started to modernise and because of the general economical and social conditions of the resident people, this area has never submitted to the pressure of large – scale reconstruction so has managed to maintain its old – fashioned charm.

The Cathedral Sé do Funchal was built in 1514 and was where the leading local and foreign traders settled their business. People who choose to holiday in Funchal will be amazed by the Cathedral’s fantastic architecture, incredible ceiling and the Bishop’s Throne. You can also visit the São Pedro parish which after the Sé is one of the most significant and populated parishes of Funchal. If these two sites aren’t enough for you while on holiday in Funchal then also pay a visit to the Fortleza de São Tiago which is a picturesque 17th century fort now containing an interesting contemporary art museum.

One thing is for sure and that is you’re not going to be short of things to do whilst on holiday in Funchal regardless of what interests you. You can visit the Pico Fortress which was built in the early 1600s in response to pirate raids and has excellent views over Funchal and contains a small museum or you can visit the Old Town which is a charming district filled with bars and restaurants.

The sights you will see whilst on holiday in Funchal will be spectacular and there are several interesting ways of doing this. You can also walk from the Marina to Bela Sao Tíago Fort for a great view of Funchal town and its Bay or take a stroll through Parque Santa Caterina. If wildlife isn’t your thing then you can stop at the top of the park where you will find its famous Casino.

Funchal Marina also comes highly recommended as it is a lively waterfront with many cafés and restaurants. Here you can take a trip on the catamaran and go dolphin watching or just relax and soak up the atmosphere.

The city’s claim to fame is that the popular Manchester United football player Cristiano Ronaldo was born there. If you are looking for a break away from large groups of tourists and are more into sightseeing than clubbing all night long, then a holiday in Funchal is perfect for you.

Image belongs to: Carla Saliba. Taken from: http://www.flickr.com

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