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Madeiras five-century-old capital is said to have been named Funchal because of the abundance of fennel (funcho) that was growing there.
Funchal is located in an absolutely unique area. The amphitheatre of Funchal city begins at the harbor and rises almost 1200 m high on gentle slopes. This provides a natural shelter and was what once attracted the first settlers.
The best harbor and the best climate combined with an excellent geographical position allowed Funchal to have a rapid population growth.
Today Funchal is a very modern city with over 104.000 inhabitants. This does however mean that traffic congestion in the centre can become sometimes quite confusing.
The city can easily be explored by foot and no matter where your hotel is located (as long as it is in the Funchal tourist area) you will find no difficulty in walking into the city centre to delight at its sights and sounds.
Probably the most central point is the ‘Sé’ Cathedral. Built between 1493 and 1514 by Gil Eanes it represents one of Madeiras numerous treasures.
Funchal (population 100,526) is the chief city of Madeira Island and the capital and largest city of the Madeira Autonomous Region, Portugal.
With its neighboring boroughs (municipalities) of Câmara de Lobos, Santa Cruz, Machico and Ribeira Brava the town has over 150,000 inhabitants. It is the most populous Portuguese city outside mainland Portugal. The Funchal conurbation includes the cities of Funchal, Câmara de Lobos, Caniço and Santa Cruz, all on the south side of Madeira.
Funchal lies in a natural amphitheatre-shaped geographic bowl, with gentle slopes beginning at the harbor and rising almost 1200 metres. This provides a natural shelter that attracted the first settlers. Funchal is a cosmopolitan and panoramic city, with parks, shops and hotels.
Funchal has been Madeiras capital for more than five centuries, and is said to have been named because of the abundance of fennel growing there.
The Funchal Municipality includes the Savage Islands (Ilhas Selvagens), a nature reserve 160 km (100 mi) south of Funchal.
A highway provides access to Câmara de Lobos and Ribeira Brava to the west, and Santa Cruz and Machico to the east.