Madeira’s principal place of worship sits slap bang in the heart of the city, its tower dominating the skyline because it has considering that the early 16th century. Though of quite modest proportions, i thought this was once a cathedral that oversaw the most significant diocese ever created, one who encompassed every one of Portugal’s overseas territories. Now it serves only the people of Funchal and Madeira, and also featuring near the top of a list of every tourist’s must-visits.
Coming in on the bright sun outside, it requires a couple of minutes for the eyes to have used to the low-light interior of Madeira's top temple. The first thing you want to do is lookup – the Sé's intricately carved alfarje ceilings include the most elaborate within the island and are also made of Madeiran cedar inlaid with shell, rope and white clay to magnificent effect. The other obvious highlight in the interior would be the main altar, ordered by King Manuel I, that it was crafted between 1512 and 1517. Fully renovated in 2014, its 12 Gothic panels depict the Life in the Virgin along with the Passion of Christ.
King Manuel I went along to town for the Sé, showering his favourite church with precious gifts. The baptismal font (for the left because you enter), the pulpit and also the processional cross (now on display within the Museu de Arte Sacra) were all gifts on the monarch.
Very unusual for Madeira will be the memorial brass set from the floor from the north aisle. Confirming Madeira's erstwhile trading links with Flanders, where this type of brass is typical, it depicts wealthy 16th-century merchant Pedro de Brito Oliveira Pestana with the exceptional wife. Leaving the dim nave, some parts with the Sé's exterior are worth trying to find. On the south side on the cathedral, check out to find odd barley-twist pinnacles, an architectural feature that is one of
the short-lived Manueline style (1490–1520). The Sé's clock tower has dominated the Funchal skyline for five centuries – sadly it can't be climbed.