This is a bonus blog entry! I normally only do one post from each town, but I had so many lovely photos of these amazing gardens that I decided to share some with you.
I caught the cable car from Funchal to reach these gardens - a spectacular 20 minute trip up the mountains.
According to the Conde Nast Traveller magazine, these gardens are one of the 13 most beautiful botanical gardens in the world. This features prominently in their advertising, so I found the list online to see which other gardens made the cut. Their list included the Butchart gardens in British Columbia (would agree with their inclusion), Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny, France, Kew gardens, London, and surprisingly in my view, the botanic gardens in Sydney.
These gardens in Monte, up the mountainside from Madeira’s capital of Funchal, were, indeed, spectacular. I would rate them among the top 3 gardens I have ever visited, along with Butchart in Canada and Inverewe in Scotland. The gardens are part of an estate created in the 18th century, which was later extended to include a grand hotel (alas no longer open for accommodation or even viewing). The estate was opened as the Monte Palace Madeira garden in 1987. The gardens tumble wildly down the equivalent of 11 stories in height of mountainside and spread lushly over 70,000 square metres. They include Japanese pavilions, orchid gardens, an ornamental lake, tiles depicting the history of Portugal and thousands of different types of plants. I spent almost four hours climbing down and then, up and up and up, these fabulous gardens. A real highlight of my trip.