Crammed involving the Mercado dos Lavradores as well as the Fortaleza de Santiago, Funchal's 'Old Zone' is easily the most happening place on Madeira today. A dilapidated section of abandoned 19th-century fishermen's cottages and merchants' houses a few years ago, this moody neighbourhood of tightly packed streets, basalt arches, tiny chapels and forgotten corners is transformed lately into Funchal’s nightlife epicentre through the arrival of latest and imaginative bars, restaurants and hostels.
No greater than few metres wide, Funchal's funkiest street, Rua de Santa Maria, runs the complete length from the Zona Velha, its cobbles a car-free throng of tourists and locals from lunchtime to breakfast. By day it's almost blocked in places with the tables and chairs of many of Funchal's best restaurants; by night the crowds spill outside the tiny bars, ponchas and caipirinhas on hand. There's also a great deal of history in this particular street, in the diminutive 17th-century Capela da Boa Viagem, where it intersects Rua de Boa Viagem, on the tall merchants' houses, their musty cellars harking back on the first settlers and Madeira's days to be a place of Atlantic trade. This is also where you can find the vast majority of street art done within the Open Doors Arts Project.
Rua de Santa Maria widens out towards its eastern end into pretty Largo do Corpo Santo, high are a couple of low-key attractions amid the touristy restaurants. The Capela do Corpo Santo may be the old fishermen's chapel, though exactly the 15th-century portal is on the original building. The only area of Funchal's 16th-century city wall to obtain survived can be found nearby. Gliding silently higher than the red-tiled roofs in the Zona Velha will be the cabins in the Teleférico (cable car), its 21st-century glass-and-steel terminus the dominant feature from the Zone Velha seafront. At the other end would be the Jardim do Almirante Reis, every football pitch (hence the footballer statue) the good news is a place tourists and Funchalese arrived at hang out.