From Monte to Funchal
One of the most fun and unique rides you can do in Madeira, the descent of the slopes from Monte to Funchal, in rod cars.Monte is still a compelling place for those wishing to become aware of the romantic atmosphere of the wide natural amphitheater surrounding the Funchal. Located north of town, about 500 meters above sea level, this shaded and wooded place was connected to the city, for nearly 100 years, through a bumpy journey by train. In parallel, it remains (for those who have the required boldness) the tradition of descending the local streets in the popular Carros do Monte, a kind of sleighs made of wicker, hold by ropes, which the drivers followed downhill to the town center. Let us see something of the history of the aforementioned train.
Located almost at the accurate North-South direction, the old Comboio street witnesses, still today, within the historic heart of western Funchal, the old itinerary of the steam train, from the Pombal station, by the most central rivulet of the city, up to the romantic place of farms and summer pleasuring days, Monte, and its towering Terreiro da Luta. It was a hard, steep ascent, with a carriage pulled by a sturdy machine on two rails with rack and pinion to increase traction.
In 1891, the Companhia do Caminho de Ferro do Monte began operating. As early as 1893, the section Pombal - Levada de Santa Luzia was opened, and in 1894, the one leading from Santa Luzia to Atalhinho. The railroad in the most difficult ascent, up to Terreiro da Luta, was built until 1912, completing 4 km. Until the decades of 1920-30, the railroad was successfully exploited (four trips per day), but with the gradual competition of motorized transport, the operation ended in April 1943.
At this romantic Monte, the prime role was performed by "Quinta Gordon", a manor visited by our kings in 1901, which housed the former Austrian emperor, Charles I, in his sad and short exile in 1921-22, already undermined by the disease. A crypt in that church since 1967 was placed as a homage. In addition, there was Terreiro da Luta, where he fulfilled desideratum of the end of WWI, caused the building of a monument to Nossa Senhora da Paz, in 1918-27.