Just off the Southwest coast of Portugal, 310 miles off the coast of Africa and just North of the Canary Islands, lie a group of islands that belong to Portugal known as Madeira. This is one of the main stopping points for cruise ships making transatlantic crossings. The capital and most populous city is Funchal, a gorgeous city featuring many of the same artful tiled walkways I wrote about in the Azores and Lisbon articles on this site. Must be a Portuguese thing, and I love it!
The city of Funchal is packed with great shopping, cafes, parks and of course, an incredible ocean view high atop the cliffs. Many of the buildings have a similar style that I saw in the Azores and continue the white and brown color scheme. If you want to venture to the top of the mountainous island you can hop aboard the ariel sky ride cable car and admire the view from the top.
Amazing as it is to stroll the streets, admiring the cafes and the cool architecture, there is another reason for art lovers to make the trek to Funchal. Amble along the cobblestone paths dotted with outdoor cafes and you’ll start to notice some of the doors painted up like museum pieces. This door art on Santa Maria street in the old town of Rua de Santa Maria is no graffiti job, but bright and colorful art that makes you stop and admire.
These art doors not only use paint, but sometimes use clay, found objects, metal and other materials to form a very elaborate 3D experience! Some of these doors can be quite over the top!
What started as a project to revitalize a section of town that was abandoned and deteriorating has turned Funchal into a vibrant and art filled must see tourist stop! Art Project Open Doors (Projecto artE de pORtas abErtas) was started by Jose Maria Montero Zyberchema in 2010 and has brought new life into Funchals old town. Local artists decorate the doors among open air shops and cafes.
I can’t wait to get back to Funchal. Its much more than just the old town art district. The beautiful parks are perfect for taking in the warm climate while relaxing with an ocean view and make Funchal a perfect stop either via cruise ship or by a short hour and a half flight from Lisbon.