Despite being in the reach of all those who want to discover Funchal ‘secret places’, this city can still surprise me with unexpected revelations.
“Secrets” which are no secret, this post talks more about discoveries in my own city, which share here with you. I hope it inspires you to discover how do your “secret places” in Funchal, look like…
Location: Sao Pedro
Imagine a neighborhood in the city center, with narrow and steep streets that run towards the sea.
It was in the fifteenth century, that the Madeiran families started living in this area, away from Santa Maria do Calhau, now known as Old Town.
The houses of this neighborhood have wooden blinders, walls in warm colors and small gardens with bougainvillea. Here one feels the silence, sometimes interrupted by the voices that echo from the televisions.
This is where I live, ‘my neighborhood’; Sao Pedro.
For me, this area has a special charm.
It reminds me of the streets of my childhood, which used to be my playground, home to school, trapped in my thoughts, how would the world become when I grew older…
Today, I wonder… what all those closed cafes and shops would be like if they were given a second chance.
Would you like to get to know more?
Here are some tips:
1. Visit the Hotel Monte Carlo and marvel at its view. This hotel was built as a residence and was even a school for 240 children from Gibraltar, in exile in Madeira in 1946. Since the 70s, it’s a beautiful hotel. See the neoclassical architecture with neobaroque details and the stylish bar inside.
2. Take a glance at the former Residential of Santa Clara, built in 1926. Unfortunately, today it’s closed.
3. Visit the house that holds the Universe of Memories of João Carlos Abreu. In its gardens there’s a cafe where herbal teas, scones and cakes are all homemade. (Please send a kiss to Carol, on my behalf)
4. Continue towards the Museum Quinta das Cruzes (Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 12:30 and from 14:00 to 17:30).
This was also the site of the former residence of João Gonçalves Zarco, one of the discoverers of Madeira.
In its gardens you can admire a Manueline window that belonged to the façade of the old Hospital.
The same window in the Old Hospital ( Via Wikimedia Commons)
Do not miss the greenhouse of orchids and orquestrofone which was manufactured by Limonaire Frères in France.
It was brought to Madeira by Viscount Cacongo after he acquired it at the International Fair of Paris in 1900, to entertain the garden parties of Funchal. Once you hear the music playing, you are almost transported to the glamour of those times…
5. Stroll down the street of the old Hotel Santa Clara, now Regional Building of Statistics. This was one of the first hotels of Madeira.
Imagine the view one would have from that balcony …
6. Take a guided tour to the Santa Clara Convent (at 10a.m and 3p.m. on weekdays) and marvel at the beauty of the private chapels of the Clarisse Sisters, a real charm.
I would love to learn and read more about the lives of the sisters who lived here. I know that at that time, many daughters that didn’t get married, ended up coming here. They brought their dowry and wealth, visible in their private chapels, where they used to come several times a day to pray.
Note that the sisters had no contact with the outside.
In the church it is visible a small window through which they could commune.
7. There’s also a little house in the courtyard which is kind of a real dollhouse. It was built for the daughter of Dr. Frederico de Freitas (whose house, now a museum, is located nearby) while attending this school.
8. Do you know the legend of the chapel that is on the Street of Capuchinhos, the Chapel of Souls? This, dates from 1781 and the interior has an altarpiece, painted wood carvings, representing the souls in Purgatory.
I’ve recently discovered the legend concerning this chapel, through a job that my son did to school and it goes like this: “It is said that they were two friends who liked to gamble, until one day, one earned all the money from the other, not conformed he decided to kill him. He waited for him in a hiding place under a rock, but when his friend passed by, he was surrounded by people. This was repeated for successive nights, until he realized that the people who accompanied him, walked without touching their feet on the ground. Startled, he confessed to his friend his intention and he answered him: – Those were the souls who saved my life and your soul. And so was born under that same rock, the Chapel of Souls. ”
Open to the public: Tuesday and Thursday- 14:00 to 17:00, Wednesday – 09:00 to 11:00
9. Wander aimlessly in the Beco do Soca, Viewpoint das Cruzes, Rua dos Arrifes and Rua da Saúde and surprise yourself…
10. Finally, specially if the afternoon is sunny, say hello to this friend who spends his afternoons in his house in Calçada do Pico, resting under the sun 🙂
If you know more “secrets” (about this or another district in Funchal), and want to unravel please leave here a comment.
Cheers to wanderlust!