Monte is a suburb, created in 1565 as a residence of many wealthy families, located on a hill north of Funchal – the capital of Madeira Island. It was the last dwelling place of Charles I – the last Austro – Hungarian Emperor, who was expelled and passed away there in 1922.
The best way to reach it is the 8 seat cable car and the station is located in the city center in Almirante Reis park. The length is 3,718m/about 12,000 ft/ with elevation of 560m and takes about 15 minutes in one direction. While you climb up, you will be able to enjoy the city view.
When you get to the top, next to the upper cable car station, there is a terrace where you may spend a few minutes with the panorama.
The entrance of Monte Palace is very close. There is another entrance on the opposite side if you come by car or bus.
When you get in, the lane initially goes by the Monte Palace Museum, which houses African art and a beautiful collection of minerals.
History of Portugal Tiles
Walking down the lane you will see a collection of 40 terracotta tile panels presenting the History of Portugal, created in the 90’s by the Argentinean artist Alberto Cedrón.
Northern Oriental Garden
The entrance of the Northern Oriental Garden is protected by two guardian lions. They are also known as Fu Dogs(or Shishi in Chinese and Komainu in Japanese). It is believed that they defend the building from harmful people or influences. The garden contains gates, pagodas, bridges, stone lanterns(Sando in Japanese) and Buddha statues. Gates called torii in Japanese, mark the entrances. They are usually several meters high and painted in red and black.
The top of the artworks is a huge panel designed in 1993 also by Alberto Cedrón. It was created for the celebration of the 450th anniversary of the arrival of the Portuguese in Japan, called “The Adventure of the Portuguese in Japan” and consists 166 colorful plates.
Continuing down the lane you will enjoy caves and niches with statues and other surprising stuff. There are marble statues from 18th and stone ones from 20th century.
Flora and Fauna
Monte Palace Tropical Garden is spread on area of 70,000 square meters(7 hectares). It houses rich collection/synonym/ of plants like Cycads, Azaleas, Orchids and preserved local flora.
Please, pay attention that the orchid blooming period is from December to May.
During your walk you will meet beautiful free peacocks, Capped Heron, Indonesian Combat Rooster, swans, ducks, parrots and other chicken species.
One of the main attractions is the diversity of Koi fish in some of the lakes.
The Central Lake
The Central Lake is a masterpiece of the architecture. It combines waterfall with a cascade, aqueduct, water spouts, islands and various statues. From the terraces, the visitors can enjoy the beautiful view, tranquility and the birds, floating peacefully.
As the water comes from the mountains, during the rainy season it becomes muddy, but it evokes feelings a little bit far from the standard expectations.
Monte Palace History
In the 18-th century Charles Murray – English Consul bought the property located in that area and convert it into a beautiful place called The Pleasure Estate. In 1897, Alfredo Guilherme Rodrigues took that property and built a residence, transformed later to Monte Palace Hotel. After his death in 1943, the estate was taken by a financial institution, which sold it in 1987 to Jose Manuel Rodrigues Berardo – entrepreneur and art collector. Currently, the building of Monte Palace is not open for visitors, but the tourist may enjoy its external architecture, the “The Skipping Girl” bronze statue by James Butler from 1987 and the beautiful statue of Sphinx in front.
Southern Oriental Garden
Southern Oriental Garden contains pagoda, gates, bridges, waterfalls, narrow canals and small lakes. The entrance of the pagoda is protected by two Fu Dogs and the Buddha Statue in there, is also defended by two of them with metal ball in each mouth.
Coats Of Arms
There are several coats of arms made by stone come from 16-th century.
The most emotional way to finish your trip and get down the hill is the toboggan ride. The starting point is located just below the Church of Our Lady of Monte, built in 1741. The wicker basket car – toboggan, controlled by two drivers in traditional white uniforms will take you 2 km(1.2 miles)downward to Livramento(another suburb of Funchal).
I would suggest you spending whole one day in this beautiful garden! Enjoy!
My video guide to Monte Palace Tropical Garden in Funchal, Madeira with photos, text, narration and useful information presenting the artworks, flora, fauna and other attractions. In the final you will enjoy my toboggan ride downhill video. All that on my YouTube Channel.