Sunday, 5 February 2012

Madeira Churches

One of my passions is ecclesiastical architecture and having never been to anywhere Portuguese before I had high expectations which were not disappointed.  Funchal has two of the major churches of the island which are beautifully decorated.  The Cathedral looks quite small from the outside but on entering seems to be about three times the size of initial perception.   The second major church is that of the Jesuit College which is astonishingly filled with gilt and art.  The Stations of the Cross there were bronze casts which had a vagueley Art Deco style to them and there are altars all around the walls.  Well worth a visit.

We took the cable car up to Monte to see the church there which was quite an experience.  I am not awfully good at heights and ended up returning via the bus and not using my return ticket.  I broke out into a cold sweat and felt very nauseous - even with my eyes closed.  The church itselt was lovely though, it is at the top of a massive flight of steps and pilgrims climb them on their knees as an act of faith.

We hired a taxi for a whole day to see more of the island and went to the north coast to Sao Vicente and the church dedicated to St Vincent there was extremely pretty.  Quite small but filled with colour and a very peaceful atmosphere.

Funchal has a museum dedicated to sacred art which was well worth the entrance charge.  All the artefacts and paintings have come from all over the island as churches have closed and placed in a central gallery opposite the Jesuit College.  There was some amazing filigree silver gilt exhibited, a particularly beautiful chalice comes to mind.  There were also some astonishing beds there - one depicting the last supper with Jesus and the Disciples on the bed head and a snarling looking Judas on the foot clutching a coin bag. 

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