Sé Catedral do Funchal

Cathedral in Funchal (Madeira)

Cathedral, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Diego Delso

The Church of Santa Maria, initially known as “the Big Church,” was commissioned by King Manuel I to replace the Church of Our Lady of Calhau, the first parish on the island of Madeira. The original church was deemed too small to accommodate the growing number of faithful. Dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, the new Church of Santa Maria occupied an area in the historical centre known as Largo do Duque.

Construction commenced in 1493 and concluded with dedication on October 18, 1517. The church received the status of Cathedral from Pope Leo X, who established the bishopric of Funchal, then the largest diocese globally, covering territories from Brazil to Japan.

The Cathedral, a prominent example of Manueline architecture on Madeira, owes its design to the talent of the architect Pêro Anes, Master of Royal Works. Largely unchanged since its foundation, the church features a simple façade with a gothic portal adorned with thin archivolts.

Internally, the Cathedral follows a Mendicant Gothic style with a Latin cross floor plan. A standout feature is the impressive Mudéjar ceiling, crafted from cedar wood native to the island and intricately designed with Mudéjar influences, ivory inlay, and detailing. Other notable elements include 16th-century altarpieces and 18th-century tiles. The Main Chapel’s chancel showcases saints, prophets, and apostles in 16th-century pageantry, featuring details celebrating life on Madeira, such as cherubs carrying bunches of bananas and wineskins.

The Cathedral houses a wealth of treasures, including the Museum of Sacred Art, where visitors can view the great processional cross in silver-plate gifted by King D. Manuel I. Considered a masterpiece of Portuguese jewellery, it adds to the Cathedral’s historical and artistic significance.

The Sé Catedral do Funchal appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Funchal (Madeira)!

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Visiting Sé Catedral do Funchal


Monday to Friday: from 7:15 am to 6:30 pm; Saturday from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm to 07:00 pm; Sundays and Holidays: 8:00 am to 1:00 pm and 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm.

Address: Sé Catedral do Funchal, Rua do Aljube, Funchal, Portugal
Duration: 20 minutes

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