The capital of Madeira Funchal
Funchal is not only the capital of the island but also an economical and touristical center. A visit to Funchal belongs to the standard program of the most visitors of Madeira. But I do not condisider a visit to the capital of the island as an indispensable must. The island offers more beautiful things than a big city.
Situation and significance
The capital of Madeira is Funchal. Funchal is situated on the south east of the island. Those who land by plane on the island arrive at Santa Cruz that is located further into the east. From there, there are approximately 20 km up to the capital. If one does not explicity live in the northern or in the eastern part of the island, the first way always leads through the capital Funchal.
Most of the times, the first trip through Funchal is deterrend. Traffic noises, traffic jam and exhaust fumes make the holiday mood quickly disappear - isn't enough from that stuff at home?
Funchal is not only the capital of Madeira, but also the center of the whole archipielago. In Funchal, all important things of the life in the island happen: here, politics are made, the big commercial enterprises have their registered offices in Funchal, all banks are represented in Funchal, and there are also bigger industrial plants in and around Funchal.
More than 120.000 people live in Funchal and its suburbs; this is approximately 50% of the habitants of the whole island. Only this number reveals how the life of the whole island is concentrated in the capital.
History and evolution
All hillsides of Funchal that are stuffed with houses today, where once amply overgrown with fennel. The first settlers simply cleared the fennel brushwood and named the city according to this plant: funcho means fennel in Portuguese.
Thus, in Funchal, practically by establishing the city, also a desecration of the environment began that these days no one would permit any more. Unfortunately, the city still permanently grows at the expense of the environment. The three Rivers that meet in Funchal in order to flow together into the big sea, where partly canalised - what an interference into the nature.
Funchal bursts at the seams; the city Grows into all directions. By driving through Funchal, one sees a big site; Everywhere, new office buildings, residential buildings, and of course, numerous new hotels are built. Often, the streets arise sooner than they are drawed into a map; With its immediate vicinity at the east and the west, Funchal is communicated with a four-lane motorway. One has to consider this in an island with barely 300.000 inhabitants.
Everywhere, new streets are built; old streets are broadened; numerous tunnels arise in order not to have to adapt the streets to the course of the cliffs. This is not only in the capital Funchal so, but in the whole island.
My impression of the city
Funchal was very deterrent to me. Only the drive through Funchal was so annoying to me as no shopping drive through the center of Munich on a saturday morning ever did. If one wants to get to a certain point of the city by car, one oftenly gets lost in an unclear huddle of one way streets. Specially the side streets get partly so narrow and cliffy that one rather ranks through them instead of walking.
In Funchal and the close proximity, also the whole touristical live of the island (unfortunately)happens. In Funchal there are countless hotels, beginning from a simple aparthotel up to posh 5 star hotels. Most of the holiday makers stop right in Funchal and thus they get to know mainly the southern and the eastern part of the island; A drive to the western part of the island, to Ponta do Pargo from Funchal takes 3 - 4 hours, depending on the traffic.
I did not spent my holiday in Funchal but quite far into the west of the island, in a small place called Calheta; Now I want to write down in detail about this place and the hotel and my experiences there, so that everyone can decide by himself if a holiday in the western part of Calheta is to be considered for him or if he, like 99,9% of all tourists, prefers to reside close to the capital Funchal.
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Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz