A Fortaleza do Pico


Sitting high above Funchal, the Fortaleza de São João Baptista do Pico (fortress of St. John the Baptist of the Peak) was constructed during the period of the Iberian Union (1580-1640) to defend the island against the frequent attacks of pirates (both freelance and state-sponsored). 
Originally a wooden structure, it was gradually elaborated into its more imposing form and remained in one kind of military use or another until very recently, its final role being that of naval communications station (Pico-Rádio).

For the visitor, the main attraction is the spectacular view over Funchal - though the best views are from outside the fort as from inside the fortifications obstruct the vista. 

Entrance is currently free and you will be offered an explanatory leaflet. There is a small exhibition inside the fort showing its representation in old paintings. Otherwise, the attraction is the building itself.

There is a café behind (uphill from) the fort, set within gardens that give access around to the side and front and the best views. At the time of visiting, the gate that provides entry from here into the fort was locked. To get to the main entrance, you must return to the road and descend to the next street.

Getting There

© OpenStreetMap contributors

Although you can walk up to the fort from the centre of Funchal, it's a steady climb taking to you height of about 100m. 

It's about 2km by car from the Avenida Arriaga or you can take HF Bus 15 which starts at the EEM building on the Avenida do Mar, passes the La Vie shopping centre and heads up the hill. Get off at the Rua do Alto do Pico.

It's a pleasant walk back down into Funchal, passing several museums where you may wish to drop in.