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  City of Sugar Museum  
Some of the measuring instruments at the City of Sugar - Funchal Museum

The City of Sugar Museum (Núcleo Museológico A Cidade do Açucar) serves as a retrospective on the history of Funchal guided along the central theme of sugar - the industry that helped shape the early vestiges of Funchal, and Madeira.

Before the growth of importance of the wine industry or the importance of tourism as the leading industry in the latter part of the twentieth century sugar played the pivotal and crucial role in the consolidation of the island and the city of Funchal as one of the most important centres of civil activity in Imperial Portugal during the sixteenth through to the eighteenth centuries.

Incredible fortunes were amassed by the early settlers and developers of the island that involved themselves with the sugar trade. Christopher Columbus himself was involved in the trade of sugar here - was he perhaps hoping to make his own personal fortune to pay his way to the Americas? The wealth created by these merchants helped build the physical structure of the island and Funchal. One such edifice of Funchal was the residence and home of "João Esmeraldo" - a Flemish settler that traded in sugar between Madeira and other parts of Europe. (The site of the current museum under discussion). The building was demolished in 1877. However, under the auspices of the city council efforts were made in 1989 to uncover the foundations of the building still recoverable - despite the controversy surrounding the authenticity of the location of the esteemed sugar trader's residence - in and around the yellow Praça de Colombo or "Columbus Square". The museum includes some of the objects found during the excavations of the foundation.

The museum is designed along chronological lines and shows in detail the rise and decline of the impact of sugar on the city. Prominence, however, is given to the instruments and the types of sugar used in trade between the island and the rest of the sixteenth and seventeenth century worlds. Items displayed include English and Portuguese variants of measuring instruments (scales, weights, measuring pots, and so on).

Another important and interesting feature of the museum are the remnants of one of the earliest Coat of Arms for the city of Funchal (circa 1584). Interestingly enough the coat of arms, different to that of today, shows elements or icons of sugar cane plants - underlying the enormous role of that product in the diurnal routine of sixteenth century Funchal. Alongside the colourful archive of documents to the coat of arms there are also some significant tiles from across a spectrum of several centuries, and some important maps - including a very good and important copy of a map of Funchal from 1572.


More Info :

  • Opening Times:
    Mondays to Fridays:
    Open from 10H00 to 12H30 and from 14H00 to 18H00

    Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays

  • Contact:
    Câmara Municipal do Funchal
    Praça Colombo, 5
    9000 Funchal

    Tel: (351 91) 23 69 10

  • Admission:
    Adults: 300$00
    Senior Citizens: 150$00
    Scholars and other Students: Free
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