Funchal Gems: Old Town street art

Funchal Gems: Painted doors on Rua de Santa Maria. Old Town street art project “Art of the Open Doors”: Kolorowe drzwi Funchal – Sztuka Otwartych Drzwi na ulicy Rua de Santa Maria. Sztuka uliczna na Starym Mieście w Funchal: #madeira #portugal #streetart

The Old Town (Zona Velha), one of the most popular tourist attractions in Funchal, used to be a bad neighborhood avoided by tourists. It all started to change around 2010, thanks to the initiative of some great local artists. The local government supported the restoration project, provided paint supplies to artists, who began the journey of “bringing life” to this great area. The project is called “The Art of Open Doors”.

At the same time, new restaurants began to open. Less than 10 years later, Funchal’s Old Town is an entirely different place. You will find here, besides the great street art, also many good restaurants, Poncha bars, stores with handmade craft and art galleries.

Behind the Open Doors of Funchal…

Before we move on to the gallery, a couple of interesting facts, which you probably won’t find in most of the guides, and which could help you understand the area’s true soul and origin. 

João Carlos Nunes Abreu

If you spend some time in the Old Town, you will notice a couple of monuments and memorial stones, all carrying the same name – João Carlos Nunes Abreu.

Funchal Gems: Painted doors and murals on Rua de Santa Mariai in Zona Velha. Old Town street art project “Art of the Open Doors”: #madeira #portugal #streetart #art
Funchal Attractions: Painted doors on Rua de Santa Mariai in Zona Velha. Old Town street art project “Art of the Open Doors”. Joan Carlos Abreu Memorial.
Funchal Attractions: Painted doors on Rua de Santa Mariai in Zona Velha. Old Town street art project “Art of the Open Doors”. Joan Carlos Abreu Memorial.

João Carlos Abreu used to be (among many other functions he held…) the Regional Secretary of Tourism and Culture in Madeira. It was him who came up with the idea of organizing the biggest Firework Show, Madeira Flower Festival, Madeira Wine Festival, The Atlantic Festival, Carnival celebrations, and many other initiatives to bring not only tourists to Madeira but also tourists and locals together. Madeira wouldn’t be the Madeira we know if it wasn’t also for João Carlos Abreu. 

João Carlos Abreu still lives in his beloved Funchal, still keeps devoting his time to others. Currently, he is presiding the association supporting children development projects, called CRIAMAR. If you would like to know more about the project or support it, please visit the [OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF CRIAMAR].

And yes, you suspect it right. This is the same João Carlos Nunes Abreu, who donated the entire collection of the spectacular museum Universo de Memórias in Funchal. It isn’t actually just a museum, it is a true “Universe of Memories”…  It is one of the gems of Funchal. Be sure to put this place on your Funchal itinerary as it is definitely worth visiting. Personally, I find it one of the most beautiful and memorable collections of art I have seen.

João Carlos Abreu used to live on Rua Santa Maria. His old house is where the restaurant Mozart is located now. He was a big supporter of the Art of Open Doors (“artE das pORtas Abertas”) project, and he is considered one of the main promoters and a driving force of reviving the Old Town of Funchal.

Funchal Gems: Painted doors and murals on Rua de Santa Mariai in Zona Velha. Old Town street art project “Art of the Open Doors”: #madeira #portugal #streetart #art

Best tip for visiting Funchal’s Old Town to see the painted doors

If you visit the area of Santa Maria Street in the afternoon, once the street restaurants are open, not only you will get a headache trying to politely reject all the dinner invitations, you will also miss some paintings. When restaurants open their doors and set up the tables on the streets, some beautiful doors are simply hidden.

If you are planning to photograph the street art, plan your visit early in the early morning, if possible on a sunny Sunday. You will skip the crowds and you will be able to enjoy all the paintings.

The best view on the Old Town from above is from the cable car to Monte, however, it will be really a matter of seconds. Other option is the free roof viewpoint on the top floor of Madeira Story Centre

Madeira museums: Madeira Story Centre

The famous painted doors of Funchal – Gallery

Here are some of the nicest painted doors…

My absolute favourites…

Other interesting doors…

Atrakcje Funchal: Stare Miasto - sztuka uliczna, murale i kolorowe drzwi Funchal.

I wish I had a chance to ask the artists, who the person on the right is… 

The caricature on the left, in my opinion, is a caricature of João Carlos Nunes Abreu.

Stare Miasto (Zona Velha) w Funchal - sztuka uliczna, murale i kolorowe drzwi

How many music legends were you able to recognize? 

These are the doors of a music studio, which most of the tourists will probably miss. They are a bit hidden- they decorate the doors of “Estúdio 21” music studio on R. Latino Coelho 80. 

Except for the painted doors, there are also a couple of great murals.

Stare Miasto w Funchal (Zona Velha) - sztuka uliczna, murale i kolorowe drzwi Funchal. Projekt "Sztuka Otwartych Drzwi".
Mural of Ronaldo, Funchal

In Funchal, there are also two murals of Ronaldo, the smaller one is located close to the fruit market – Mercado dos Lavradores. The bigger one, the childhood neighbourhood of the footballer – Santo Antonio.




CR7 Cristiano Ronaldo Mural in Madeira, Portugal by Richard Wilson - richardwilsonartwork
CR7 Cristiano Ronaldo Mural in Madeira, Portugal by Richard Wilson - richardwilsonartwork

Photogenic Old Town of Funchal

Funchal ‘s Old Town is a very photogenic, or, instagrammable place. It was one of the settings we chose for our wedding pictures. We took there a couple of shots before heading to the Pico do Arieiro.

How to locate the doors / Map of the painted doors area

Have you come across a picture of a particular door online but you can not find it?

There is a map on the OFFICIAL WEBSITE of the “Art of open doors” Project, which could help you find the oldest doors. I have the impression that it isn’t very up to date. Some doors have been repainted or moved. 

The best way is to plan enough time, and simply discover all the hidden corners by yourself… Who knows, maybe you will encounter some art I was not able to…?





Staying nearby the Street Art District in Funchal

There are a couple of hotels in this area (Turim Santa Maria, Porto Santa Maria etc.), but it seems that most tourists, when staying nearby the Old Town, choose private stays & small, budget hotels.

And if you have never used Airbnb before, do not miss this opportunity to save on your first booking:

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