Koi ponds, graceful swans, and brilliant foliage are only some of the wondrous sights that make up The Monte Palace Tropical Garden. People travel from near and far to see this vastly incredible botanical garden that showcases a plethora of exotic plants, and not just from Portuguese but from all over the world.
Situated on a Portuguese island, this botanical garden is considered among the most beautiful in the world. Atop the Monte Mountain the gardens flourish, accented by the surrounding Monte Palace and museum.
An entrepreneur from Funchal, Jose Berardo, thought up the gardens. As a child he grew up surrounded by lush trees and exotic plants, and so when he donated the Monte Palace to the Berardo Foundation back in 1988, he already knew what he wanted to do.
In only a few short years Berardo created a botanical garden unlike any other. He dug deep; seeking inspiration from the beauty he grew up seeing all around him. And in 1991, Berardo opened the doors to the Monte Palace Tropical Garden to the public, allowing everyone the chance to see his breathtaking creation, aided largely by the organic beauty of nature.
The Madeira Island has been waiting for a botanical garden for many years; after all it’s the perfect place for one. The reason so many different plants continue to thrive year after year has to do with Madeira’s unique climate. In fact over 2,000 species of plants flourish here, ranging in colors that are dark, bright, pastel, and everything in between! The fish infested ponds add an extra special Oriental touch to the garden, and include real Koi fish from East Asia.
There are 5 main compartments to visit in the garden:
Indigenous and endemic: Here native Madeira plants (and plants from other Atlantic Islands) are showcased. Over 100 plants are included in this exhibit alone.
Tree Garden: Plants found in ecologically opposed regions are located in this section of the garden, including plants from places like the Tropics and Himalayas.
Succulents: These hardy plants often bring to mind desert locations. Because of their ability to store water, succulents are among the only plants that can survive hot desert-like conditions. In this part of the garden you will find a wide range of succulents, many coming from South America.
Tropical/Cultivated/Aromatic/Medicinal: This section of the garden is dedicated to plants that make popular foods or medicines used around the world.
Loiro Park: This Park offers a chance to see some of the world’s most exotic birds.
Just around the corner, the Monte Palace Museum is also open to visitors. The museum currently includes 3 galleries along with the exhibitions African Passion, and Mother Nature’s Secrets.
African Passion includes 1000+ Zimbabwean sculptures ranging in creation from 1966-1969. The Mother Nature’s Secrets exhibit features rare minerals collected from Peru, Brazil, Portugal, Zambia, South Africa, Argentina, and North America.
The popular tourist attraction is also known for ‘Igreja do Monte,’ an 18th century church that holds the Emperor of Austria’s tomb. From here you can catch a ride on one of the wicker baskets that glides above the city. The wicker basket ride was invented back in 1850 as a port of transportation down to Funchal.
You can visit this garden almost any time of the year; the climate here does not include extreme seasons, meaning some type of greenery exists all year. The only day the garden shuts down is on December 25th; it is open to visitors every other day of the year.
In order to reach the destination you need to rent a cable car in neighboring Funchal. Be sure and wear your hiking shoes, if you want to see all that this remote location has to offer you’re going to have to walk for it! The sights are sure worth the sore legs tomorrow.