The Monte parish was created on 9th February 1565, based on devotion to Our Lady of Monte, which dates from the fifteenth century. With the flood of 1803, the Our Lady of Monte became evoked as the patron saint of Madeira and, in 1818, the church was inaugurated in her honour.
Housed at the very top of a grand staircase, the church of Monte features a twin-towered façade and a large churchyard with a splendid view over Funchal. On the staircase stands the statue of Blessed Charles of Habsburg, who died in Quinta do Monte in February 1922 and whose coffin rests in one of the chapels of the church. The most important and most attended pilgrimage of Madeira is the feast of Our Lady of Monte, celebrated on 15th August, similar to what happened in the late fifteenth century and early sixteenth century.
Monte boasts some of the most beautiful palaces and many other aspects that embrace this place with timeless romanticism.
The Monte Municipal Park, also known as Leite Monteiro Park is the municipal garden situated at a higher altitude, 550 meters. With an area of 26,000 m2, this lovely green space has various indigenous and exotic species and some century-old trees. At the entrance there is a bandstand and the Fountain of the Virgin, with a niche for the image of Our Lady of Monte. In the center of the park there is a lake that has a map of the island of Madeira carved in stone.
The Monte Palace Tropical Garden, which is now the headquarters of the José Berardo Foundation for Social Solidarity, is one of the biggest attractions of this locality. The wonderful Quinta do Monte Palace has a palatial house surrounded by gardens and lots of trees, and was visited by Isabella of France, when consul George Stoddart lived there.
The gardens of the emblematic Quinta do Monte were recovered, and today, it is referred to as “Quinta Jardins do Imperador”. This is one of the most symbolic villas in Madeira because the late Emperor Charles of Austria lived there after his exile in 1921. This villa boasts a tower of an extreme architectural beauty, the Malakof Tower, which allows one to enjoy the romantic scenery of Monte. Near this tower there is a garden with the same name consisting of a small fountain, and around it a vast area full of roses of various colours.
From Monte one can enjoy a unique tour in the typical Monte sledge (carros de cesto). These cars mounted on wooden runners are pushed by two “carreiros”; along 2 km downhill to Funchal, more precisely Livramento.
In this parish, in Largo das Babosas, there is a cable car that connects to Funchal, to the old part of town, an 11-minute journey which provides excellent views over the bay and valleys of Funchal.
In this place there is also a cable car that connects to the Botanical Garden, a 9-minute journey with a landscape of great natural beauty formed by a vast patch of laurel forest.
The Botanical Garden, with more than 35,000 m2, boasts more than 2,000 exotic plants from all continents, and some plant species under threat of extinction. This fantastic garden consists of several ornamental trees and shrubs, an area with orchids, lawns, belvederes and an amphitheater for recreational activities.
About 2 km from Monte, in Terreiro da Luta, stands the biggest monument in Madeira, dedicated to Our Lady of Peace. This monument was raised after the bombing of Funchal by German submarines in 1917. The locals promised that if peace was settled then they would erect a statue in honour of the Lady of Monte. Ten years later, a 5-metre statue in marble was built.
In the late nineteenth century, there was the Monte Railway, commonly known as the Monte Train or the Monte Elevator, which was a single-track railroad that connected Pombal, in Funchal, to Terreiro da Luta in Monte, covering 3,911 km. There was a single carriage, which was pushed upwardly, or suspended when going downward by the locomotive. The occurrence of two accidents caused the population to stop using this transportation and the line was dismantled in 1943.