More than just a striking floral display, this beautiful garden is also home to an impressive collection of art.
Monte Palace Gardens is perched on a hilltop overlooking Funchal Bay. Take a picturesque cable-car ride to the hilltop to experience the gardens’ rich biodiversity, unique Asian designs, remarkable tile collection and interesting museum.
The garden began as a beautiful 18th-century estate, which was later transformed into a luxury hotel. In the 1980s, Madeiran entrepreneur José Berardo acquired the hotel in order to fulfill his dream of creating a tropical public garden. Madeira’s climate allows indigenous species and a variety of exotic flora to grow successfully in the garden.
Stroll through the lawns and admire the tile collection, which is exhibited amid the tropical vegetation. Gathered from churches, palaces and private houses, most of these tile pieces date from the 15th to 20th centuries. Look for a group of 40 panels depicting some of the most important events in Portuguese history.
Another panel, of 166 terracotta-glazed tiles, depicts the story of the relationship between Portugal and Japan over the centuries. After a trip to Japan and China, José Berardo became fascinated with Asian culture. You’ll see a number of elements throughout the garden that reflect the garden founder’s interest. Notice the ponds filled with East Asian koi, as well as several marble dogs modeled after the “fu dog” statues that often guard the entrances of Asian temples.
Walk to the garden’s central lake, which was created in the early 20th century when the site included a hotel. Fed by a large waterfall, the lake was once used to host boat trips for hotel guests.
Don’t miss the garden’s museum, which contains exhibitions dedicated to African art, as well as an assortment of minerals from all over the world. Browse the collection of more than 1,000 Zimbabwean sculptures and 700 mineral specimens.
The Monte Palace Gardens are open daily, with the exception of December 25. Children under 15 receive free admission.