Monte has a wealth of romantic attractions that fascinate all who go there. One of these attractions is the exotic Monte Palace Tropical Garden. This garden, which originally belonged to the late 18th-century Quinta do Prazer, was once a hotel. It was then bought to be the headquarters of a charitable organisation, Fundação de Solidariedade Social José Berardo. The garden is full of a wide variety of species of plants and flowers, some of which belong to Madeira’s indigenous forest, lakes, fountains, oriental gardens and collections of fine panels of old tiles. A museum has recently been added to the building. It has two permanent collections, one of minerals and the other of contemporary sculpture from Zimbabwe.
Along with the Monte Palace Garden, the Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte is very popular with pilgrims. It is dedicated to Nossa Senhora do Monte (Our Lady of the Mountain), the patron saint of Madeira, in whose honour the region’s biggest religious feast is held on 15 August.
Many faithful come here to pray or fulfil vows at the tomb of Charles I of Austria. The emperor died in 1922 at Quinta do Monte, now called Quinta Jardins do Imperador.
To learn a little more about the history of the emperor’s stay here, go along to the quinta that bears his name and stop to have tea in the beautiful Malakof Garden while basking in the tranquillity and beauty.
From the strikingly beautiful Malakof Tower you will get a fine view of the landscape from Monte to Funchal. In addition to once being the home of Emperor Charles of Austria and of the famous artist Lurdes de Castro, this quinta has also been visited by distinguished figures such as King Carlos and Queen Amélia of Portugal, Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral and the fado singer Amália Rodrigues.
There is another interesting belvedere in Largo das Babosas, with a fantastic view of the Ribeira de João Gomes Valley. In this square is the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Our Lady of the Conception), which dates back to the early 20th century and contains a piece donated by Queen Amélia.
Nearby, 3 km from Monte, is the largest monument in Madeira. It is dedicated to Our Lady of Peace and was built at Terreiro da Luta as a memorial to the shelling of Funchal by a German submarine, December 3, 1916.
For the grand finale of your trip to Monte, go back to the entrance of the Monte Palace Garden and take a unique, exhilarating ride in one of the traditional Monte sledges. These wickerwork sledges pushed by two carreiros, or sledge drivers, slide on wooden runners for 4 km down to Funchal. To get to Monte, take the cable car from Funchal. It is the best way to enjoy the magnificent views of the bay and the city’s deep valleys.