Zona Velha

Top choice in Funchal

Once a run-down area between the Mercado dos Lavradores and the Fortaleza de Santiago, in recent years the 'Old Zone' of merchant's houses and 19th-century fishermen's cottages has been transformed into Funchal's hottest nightlife and restaurant area. Most of the action takes place on Rua de Santa Maria that runs the length of the Zona Velha, packed at night with milling visitors and almost blocked with restaurant tables. It's also here you'll find most of the artworks belonging to the Open Doors Arts Project.

At its eastern end, Rua de Santa Maria widens out into pretty Largo do Corpo Santo where you'll find the Capela do Corpo Santo, the old fishermen's chapel. On the seafront the Jardim do Almirante Reis was once a football pitch (hence the footballer statue). From here the cable car leaves for Monte.

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The ochre and dark-pink fortress that caps the Zona Velha seafront was built in the first half of the 17th century, when Funchal was vulnerable to pirate…

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