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History

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The archipelago of Madeira was discovered during a geostrategic manoeuvre to expand Portuguese territory, spread the Catholic faith and develop the kingdom’s economy.

The entire archipelago of Madeira was discovered in 1419. Settlers began to arrive on the island of Madeira around 1425, with early settlers coming from northern Portugal and from the Algarve in the south.

The first products produced and exported from Madeira Island were wheat, sugar and wine.

Sugar became a kind of “white gold”, making trade with all points of maritime commerce possible and enabling the purchase of Flemish art, liturgical objects and paintings. Economic development of the archipelago of Madeira centred on agricultural production and the island’s role as an obligatory port of call on trade routes.

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The name of Funchal derives from Foeniculum vulgare plant, the fennel plant. Reports at the time indicated that upon disembarking on the island, the first sight was a dense grove valley and an abundance of fennel plants essential in food and traditional desserts.

Despite the abundance of fennel it was the sugar that provided the development of a sustainable economy in the city of Funchal and throughout the island.

The Madeira Wine succeeded the sugar, becoming one of the symbols of the region nowadays. Sugar and wine production in Funchal become indispensable to the local economy and their icons were embedded in the coat of arms of the city.

Zona Velha da Cidade|||||||||||||||||||||||||

History tells us that this is where the first settlement sprang up. The Old Town is characterised by narrow cobblestone streets and the facades of old houses and is considered an area of great historic and architectural value.

In the heart of the Old Town lies Corpo Santo Chapel, one of the few 15th-century buildings that has survived until today. One of the city’s oldest streets, Rua de Santa Maria, is also located in this area. It is the site of various local businesses, including the picturesque Fábrica de Chapéus [Hat Factory], which has been operating in the same location for over 60 years, and the Vilão Boot Factory.

seta anchora
seta anchora

Artesanato

Madeira Embroidery

Madeira embroidery began to be produced about 150 years ago and became an important commodity in the 19th and 20th centuries. In that period, it began to be sold in several international markets, including the United Kingdom, Italy, the United States, Singapore, Australia and others. Inspired by the island’s nature motifs, the pieces are carefully designed and embroidered by skilled embroiderers.

The product goes through several stages of production before it is certified with a seal that guarantees its authenticity and quality.

Madeira Traditional Boots

Sturdy, durable and waterproof, these handmade boots were worn for many years by the people of Madeira as they enabled them to walk long distances.

Currently the boots are used more by folklore groups, but there are also some creative versions that have a more contemporary look.

Production has been on the decline, but you can still see how they are made in one of the remaining factories in Funchal.

Wickerwork

The wickerwork industry originated in the parish of Camacha in 1850. The area has an abundance of willow trees because the lands have plenty of water and these trees do well in thus type of soil.

After the willow branches are harvested, they are cut, stripped and set out to dry. Before being woven into any creation, the wicker is boiled to make it easier to bend and shape.

The wicker is then woven into pieces of furniture, baskets and the famous wicker toboggans used to ride downhill from Monte.

Traditional Musical Instruments

Played with instruments like the viola de arame, rajão, braguinha and brinquinho, traditional Madeiran music has been influenced by many cultures.

Some of the typical musical genres of the region are the famous bailinho, the charamba, the chamarrita, mouriscas, and of course the amusing despique singing challenges.

banner Funchal, the capital of the Madeira archipelago, was declared a city in the 1500s, and became an important point between the old and new worlds. The laid-back city owes much of its historical prominence to the white gold, the Madeiran sugar. Today Funchal is known for its appealing temperatures, wine and crafts. Top spots to visit include the open Worker's Market, Blandy's Wine Lodge and the Sacred Art Museum. Friendly locals, walkable streets and cheap taxis make the city easy to get around. SEE ON TRIPADVISORseta Mapa Turístico do Funchal

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