This room divider, commissioned from the painter Filipa Venâncio, consists of six panels (I-VI, from left to right), each with three images (1-3, from top to bottom), representing the old Madeira, such as traditional means of transport, sports activities or important events that marked the history of the island. The work is a reproduction by the artist based on photographs of the time.
The beauty and diversity of Madeira’s landscapes attract visitors, and tourism contributes directly and indirectly 37% of the region’s gross domestic product and more than a third of employment. The tourist, yesterday and today, can appreciate the city from the Pico dos Barcelos viewpoint (I-1), which overlooks the natural “amphitheater” of Funchal, or, from a lesser-known perspective, from the Lazareto garden (VI-1), on the east side of the bay.
Leaving the city, the rural landscape is full of surprises: Green and watered by streams (IV-3) or more arid at Arieiro (III-1) or at the Ponta de São Lourenço, which can be seen in the background (II-1). With a walk along the levadas (II-3) we can discover this diversity of nature. Levadas are irrigation canals built by the Madeirans since the 15th century to carry water from the springs to the fields. The levada network currently has a length of about 1400 kilometers and is a candidate for World Cultural Heritage status.
The orography of the island has given rise to some specific means of transportation. This is the case with the hammock (II-2), which was used to transport patients and ladies of high society around the island on paths and sloping roads, or the typical basket sledge (IV-2). A basket sledge ride from Monte to Funchal is an experience that can still be enjoyed today. Transportation by donkey or horse (III-3) was another option for excursions that could end, as with this family, with a picnic in the backyard of a traditional Madeiran house (III-2).
From the 17th century onward, the production and export of Madeira Wine developed, and English merchants based on the island took exports to colonial markets in America and India. The influence of the British community is reflected in sports, such as golf and tennis, introduced into Madeiran high society, but little known or even unknown to the “ordinary” islanders.
During the last quarter of the 19th century, members of the Hinton and Cossart families introduced the practice of tennis (I-3), but the courts for this sport were few and private.
The tradition of golf in Madeira (II-1) dates back to 1937, a period when the English families Miles, Leacock, and Blandy built the island’s first nine-hole golf course. Currently there are 72 holes spread over three golf courses, two of which are located in Madeira, one on the island of Porto Santo. The latter has been recognized as the best emerging golf destination in the world in 2019.
The presence of the sea and the fashion to go bathing led to the construction of the public swimming pool of Gorgulho in 1932, fed by sea water and expanded and improved in the 1960s (V-1). The swimming pool and other facilities were destroyed by the great storm of February 20, 2010, but the Lido bathing complex was renovated and opened to the public in the summer of 2016 and awarded the “Blue Flag”, a symbol of environmental quality.
Water sports were popular, and there was a club in Funchal for boating and diving activities (IV-1).
By sea, strangers arrived in ships that anchored in the bay. This required the transfer of people in boats, and the passengers were being assisted by the sailors when they reached the pebble beach (VI-2).
Around the liners appeared the “bomboteiros” (V-3), traders of Madeira products, such as wine, embroidery, and even wicker furniture from Camacha. Goods were hauled up to the ships in baskets on ropes, and payments came down the same way. With the trading, there was the “diving”: children asked the passengers for coins, which were thrown into the water for them. They collected the coins as they disappeared into the depths of the water.
The first air transport also occured via the sea: in this case it was the arrival of the fado singer Amália Rodrigues, who landed in the bay of Funchal with the seaplane Aquila Airways (V-2).
And we end this journey through time and painting in the Rua das Pretas, where the pastry shop “Iris”, a sweet memory for the people of Funchal for its ice cream cassatas, and remembered today by the name of our lounge bar. The walls of one of the most famous pastry shops in the city, the pastry shop “Felisberta” (VI-3), have been preserved. It was already closed when it fell victim to the fires that broke out in Funchal in 2016. Currently it is under reconstruction.
In the first decades of the 20th century, the animals that pulled the “corças” (a kind of sled and the means of transport for heavy goods at that time) were housed in stables in Rua das Pretas. One can imagine the chaotic traffic caused by cars and animals (I-2). Due to poor hygiene and noise, health authorities felt compelled to move the animals to other, more distant locations.