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São Lourenço Palace

At the edge of the Mar Avenue rises São Lourenço Palace. A well-preserved historical and national monument since 1943.

Its interior houses a museum. It is impossible to go unnoticed by anyone visiting this area due to its imposing size, one of the most impressive military buildings on the island.

  • Coordinates: 32.6471702; -16.9120021

For further information on what to do in Funchal, click Things To Do In Madeira Funchal. For an island itinerary, see Madeira What To Do.


Address: Avenida Zarco, 9000-000 Funchal

Phone: (+351) 291 202 530

Email: gabrr.palacio@netmadeira.com

Madeira’s fortification was late, especially in comparison with North African Portuguese settlements.

The second captain-donatary of the island, João Gonçalves da Câmara, feared the risks of an assault,

He requested a fortress from the Infanta Dona Beatriz. She was the Christ Order Master, a descendant of Nuno Álvares Pereira.

It was not a priority for her, given the limited budget and mission of the order.

It was not until the next Master of the Order (future King Manuel I) that the island began to be fortified, specifically with the Baluarte Velho (where the Palácio de São Lourenço now stands).

However, these efforts were insufficient with the arrival of new actors in the Atlantic.

Funchal was the target of a devastating French corsair attack in 1566.

In response, the Master of Royal Works, Mateus Fernandes, oversaw the expansion of the Baluarte Velho into the Fortaleza de São Lourenço (16th century), featuring a rectangular walled fortification.

Fortaleza de São Lourenço - século XVII
Fortaleza de São Lourenço – século XVII

On the southeast side stands a tower, and another on the northwest – near the area where the French corsairs would have entered.

In the 16th century, it served as the residence of the island captains and later as the headquarters for the Spanish military (Philippine period).

Over time, the residential function came to take precedence over its defensive role, and it came to be viewed as a palace rather than a fortress.

Today, it serves as the residence of the Portuguese Republic representative.


Entry is free.

Opening Hours

  • Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
  • Closed on Sunday and Monday.

Historic Nucleus of São Lourenço Palace

There is a permanent exhibition in one of the rooms displaying various military artefacts, some of which are very old and others from World War I and II.

You will see panels narrating a little of the history of the discovery of the island of Madeira and its first settlers.

The rooms of the building present a fascinating collection of European and Portuguese decorative arts. Also interesting is the gallery of portraits of the monarchy. It stands out Joaquim Leonardo da Rocha’s portrait of Dom João VI.

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