What you need to know about Funchal
Map of Funchal- Madeira, Portugal
Funchal is the largest city, the municipal seat and the capital of Portugal’s Autonomous Region of Madeira. The city has a population of 111,892, making it the 6th largest city in Portugal, and has been the capital of Madeira for more than five centuries. 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.
The name is from the Portuguese word “funcho” (fennel) and the suffix “-al”, to denote “a plantation of fennel”.
The city has a population of 111,892, making it the 6th largest city in Portugal, and has been the capital of Madeira for more than five centuries.
The Euro is the currency of the Economic and Monetary Union and was adopted by 11 state-members from the European Union on the 1st of January 1999: Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland. In 2001 Greece also adopted the Euro.
Funchal is located inside a natural amphitheater-shaped valley, with gentle slopes beginning at the coast which rise to 1200 meters, that provided 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 160 km (99 mi) south of the capital.
Funchal has a subtropical Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa) with even temperatures all year round. The climate can be separated into two main seasons: a rainier and slightly cooler season from October through March with average daily high temperatures ranging from 20 °C (68 °F) to 25 °C (77 °F) and a drier and warmer season from April through September with average daily high temperatures ranging from 21 °C (70 °F) to 26 °C (79 °F). Humidity levels remain constantly high at about 70%. Sea temperatures range from a low of 18 °C (64 °F) in February–March to 24–26 °C (75 °F) in August–October.
Since the city rises from the sea up to altitudes of 800 meters on its northern slopes, it is quite common to experience cloudiness, fog and rain on those northern suburbs while clear skies remain nearer to the sea. 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 Funchal, locally nicknamed “Funchal’s helmet”. The length and severity of the rainy season varies greatly from year to year.
Today Funchal is a major tourist town, with hotels, port, and an international airport Funchal 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 center 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.
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 Sé, 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. 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, 126 9050-097 FUNCHAL, and provides English services in the morning and Portuguese in the evening.
The Synagogue of Funchal was built in 1836, but is now disused. There is the Jewish Cemetery of Funchal which is also disused.
The harbour 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. A ferry between Funchal and Portimao, on the mainland, provided by Naviera Armas used to sail weekly, but was discontinued in 2013 due to a dispute over harbour fees. A ferry runs in two hours between Funchal and Porto Santo Island, called the Lobo Marinho.
A highway provides access to Câmara de Lobos and Ribeira Brava to the west, and Santa Cruz, Machico and Caniçal to the east.
Madeira Airport, often known as Funchal Airport/Madeira/Santa Catarina Airport (code: FNC), is located east of the city, in the municipality of Santa Cruz. The airport was one of the most dangerous airports in the world 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.
Funchal is frequently used as a stop-over by transatlantic sailors, en route from Europe to the Caribbean, as it is the northern most Atlantic island that lies in the path of the Westerlies.