Madeira Island, Portugal

Madeira Island

 

Monte Palace Tropical Garden - Madeira, Portugal A tropical archipelago with a wonderful subtropical climate and breathtaking scenery, Madeira is justifiably known as ‘the floating garden’ or ‘Pearl of the Atlantic’.

It is located in the North Atlantic Ocean, some 560 miles (900 kilometers) from continental Portugal and about 370 miles(600 kilometers) from the coast of Morocco; an outpost of Europe in the Atlantic Ocean. Forming part of the Archipelago are the inhabited islands of Madeira and Porto Santo plus small groups of uninhabited islands, the Desertas and Selvagens. The Island of Madeira is the largest of them.

Madeira has a variety of rare attractions besides its luxurious blue skies and sea and its imposing valleys and mountains where plant life is abundantly diverse. The Island is famous for Madeira wine, embroidery artisans, 'Bolo de Mel', exotic flowers, tropical fruits, striking scenery and its spectacular New Year's Eve fireworks, considered the biggest in the world by the Guinness Book of Records. Add all this to its mild climate and it’s easy to see why the ‘Paradise Island’ has become the inspirational holiday destination of the 'old world'.

Madeira Island, Portugal Madeira Island, Portugal

The Portuguese Captain João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira discovered Porto Santo Island in 1418. The following year while trying to settle in Porto Santo they observed on the southwestern horizon a great dark cloud; they sailed and found a beautiful island, which they named Madeira - Island of Woods.

Madeira Island, Portugal Madeira Island, Portugal

Funchal
Funchal was declared a city on the 21st of August 1508 the largest city in the Island and now the main centre of trade. It’s situated on the south coast of Madeira and is one of the Atlantic Ocean’s most popular cruise-ship ports of call. Funchal has a rich historical heritage; a bustling colorful city with stunning views of the mountains and with plenty to see and do.

Funchal - Madeira Island, Portugal The name Funchal derives from the sweet-smelling wild herb Foeniculum vulgare, commonly known as fennel /funcho in Portuguese/, which was found growing profusely in the wild when the island was first settled.

With its relaxed atmosphere and sophisticated life-style, Madeira’s cosmopolitan capital Funchal is virtually crime free.
Funchal is the largest municipality in the region. It contents ten parishes: Imaculado Coracao de Maria, Santa Maria Maior, Monte, Santo Antonio, Sao Roque, Sao Martinho, Sao Pedro, Se, Santa Luzia and Sao Goncalo.
The warmth of Funchalenses is well-known. The city relies heavily on tourism and trade and understands how to treat its visitors well.
Funchal - Madeira Island, Portugal
Funchal - Madeira Island, Portugal The city, surrounded by mountainous slopes covered in vegetation, natural amphitheatre, especially when viewed from the sea is ranked at the head of the most beautiful landscapes described by writers in recent centuries.

Construction of St. John the Evangelist Church began in 1624 and was completed around 1647. It is a Church of Jesuit foundation with a long, high nave and wide chancel. The Church forms part of Jesuit Colege complex, the main building of which is occupied by the University of Madeira. The Church’s dedication to St. John the Evangelist reflects the fact that lessons at the College began on 6 May 1570, the date on which the Saint’s Martyrdom in Rome is celebrated.

Church of St. John the Evangelist - Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal
The Palace of Sao Lourenco - Funchal, Madeira, Portugal The Palace of Sao Lourenco is a historical monument  which includes Fortress, begun in the first half of the 16-th century and completed in the reign of King Felipe I.
It dominates the bay of Funchal and the Port, and was one of the first major buildings in the city. In 1836 the Fortaleza-Palacio complex was divided into a military part, to the east and the Palacio, the official residence of the Civil Governor.

Today, the palace serves as the military headquarters in Madeira and free guided tours are provided for the public to view the interior.
Joao Goncalves Zarco was one of the discoverers of Madeira, among with Tristao Vaz Teixeira and Bartolomeu Dias. He was the captain that ordered by Henry The Navigator went on the expedition that discovered Porto Santo Island in 1418 and Madeira Island in 1419. As a reward for this Prince Henry nominated him the first donee captain of Funchal. Zarco Monument - Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Monte Palace Tropical Garden

In the 18th century the English Consul Charles Murray, bought a property south of the church in "Monte" and transformed it into a beautiful estate, then called "Quinta do Prazer" (The Pleasure Estate). Towards the end of the 19th century, some of the wealthiest families of Madeira used to live in fine estates situated on the outskirts of Funchal.

Monte Palace Tropical Garden - Madeira, Portugal In 1897, Alfredo Guilherme Rodrigues acquired the forenamed estate and, inspired by the palaces that he once saw on the margins of the Rhine River, he built a palace-like residence which was later converted into a Hotel named the "Monte Palace Hotel".
This Hotel was visited by eminent national and foreign people who appreciated and enjoyed this lovely resort with its breathtaking views of Funchal and the natural surroundings.
In 1943, Alfredo Guilherme Rodrigues passed away. Unfortunately his family did not pursue his undertaking, consequently leading to the closing of the hotel which, in the meantime, was taken over by a financial institution, the "Caixa Economia do Funchal".

In 1987, that Financial Institution sold the Monte Palace Hotel to the entrepreneur Jose Manuel Rodrigues Berardo, who in turn donated it to the Foundation which he created and named after himself. This was how the "Monte Palace Tropical Garden" originated.
Monte Palace Tropical Garden - Madeira, Portugal
Monte Palace Tropical Garden - Madeira, Portugal Monte Palace Tropical Garden - Madeira, Portugal

Since it's acquisition the "Monte Palace Tropical Garden" has been re-established, with both exotic plants native to various countries(Cycads and Protea from South Africa, Azaleas from Belgium, Heather from Scotland, among others) and indigenous plants from the Madeira forest namely, "Laurissilva", such as ferns, cedars, laurels, Canary Laurels, etc.

Monte Palace Tropical Garden - Madeira, Portugal Two more lakes with a capacity of 300,000 litres of water were also built. These incorporate a sophisticated filtering system and water purifier, without the use of chemicals that ensure a healthy habitat for the fish, which provide an enjoyable display of colors for our visitors.
Water is fed into the lake by a large waterfall designed by Jose Berardo and it is bordered at the rear by an aqueduct that also used to provide water.
It is now home to the swans and ducks but visitors may sit and share the peaceful tranquility of these surroundings with them.
Monte Palace Tropical Garden - Madeira, Portugal
Monte Palace Tropical Garden - Madeira, Portugal From 1904 to 1943, at the time when the Palace was being used as a Hotel, its clientele was able to enjoy pleasant boat trips on the central lake.

The Monte Palace Museum is an ideal exhibition space nestled within the beautiful surroundings of a tropical garden. There are three floors, two of which are dedicated to sculptures and the third houses a unique mineral collection gathered from the four corners of the world.

Monte Palace Museum - Madeira, Portugal Monte Palace Museum - Madeira, Portugal

At the entrance to the Oriental garden in the Northern area, there are two marble Fo dogs, mythical animals from the Orient usually found at the entrance to temples, acting as guards. There is a moveable ball in their half-open mouths which, according to the Chinese belief, brings good luck to those who give it one complete turn.
The decoration is based on the oriental style, and thus various pagodas may be found, originally intended to house relics or to mark a holy places.

Monte Palace Oriental Garden - Madeira, Portugal Monte Palace Oriental Garden - Madeira, Portugal

In the front of the palace and under protection of cover from the sun and frost, orchids are grown. These are plants of singular beauty and diversity of shapes and colors.
They may be found in very different climatic conditions, owing to their great capacity to adapt. One of their characteristics is that the leaves have transformed into fleshly organs, authentic reservoirs of water, allowing for their survival during droughts.

Monte Palace Tropical Garden Orchids - Madeira, Portugal Monte Palace Tropical Garden Orchids - Madeira, Portugal

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Map of Madeira Island, Portugal

Madeira Island, Portugal

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