The Old Town (Zona Velha), one of the most popular tourist attractions in Funchal, used to be a bad neighbourhood 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 “Art of the 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…
- The famous painted doors of Funchal – Gallery
- Photogenic Old Town of Funchal
- How to locate the doors / Map of the painted doors area
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.
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, Carnaval 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.
Best travel 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 of the paintings. When restaurants open their doors and set up the tables on the streets, some of the 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.
The famous painted doors of Funchal – Gallery
Here are some of the painted doors of Funchal…
My absolute favourites…
Other interesting doors…
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.
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.
In Funchal, there are two murals of Ronaldo, the smaller one is located close to the fruit market – Mercado dos Lavoradores. The bigger one, the childhood neighbourhood of the footballer – Santo Antonio.
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 of the 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..?
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