Funchal recently celebrated 500 years of being a 'city.'
However, occupation of Madeira goes back several hundred years earlier with documentation of an English merchant being shipwrecked here in the 1370s. Robert Machin and partner are believed to have been responsible for the establishment of what is now Madeira's second largest town, Machico (East Coast), hence the name.
In 1425 Madeira was officially declared a province of Portugal and Zarco, governor of the western half of the island, founds Funchal. If you are interested in the full story of Madeira, and Funchal, I strongly recommend you visit the Madeira "Story Centre" which is a museum "walk through" located next to the cable car & Old Town. It provides an excellent chronology of the island, from its volcanic birth through to present day. Visit www.storycentre.com.
Funchal is a busy working city. However, it is also a beautiful floral city with the most amazing mosaic tiles on just about every pavement and sidewalk.
I took these pictures from the cable car and its final destination, Monte. It gives you a good idea of the size of the city and how Funchal hasn't been ruined by high rise buildings. Strict planning laws have also ensured the terracotta roofs tiles are used in most new developments, maintaining the traditional Portuguese feel of the city. Below, the architecture of Funchal is beautiful.
Shop 'till you drop! Funchal has hundreds of excellent shops, shopping centres, and most of the major high street names. It is also rich in street cafes and bars so you wont go hungry!