Christ the King Statue

Cristo Rei - Christ the King, Garajau, Madeira 

More accurately the Sagrado Coração de Jesus (the Sacred Heart traditionally depicted on the chest of Jesus), but known also as Cristo Rei (Christ the King), the art deco statue was erected in 1927, 4 years before the considerably larger Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro. It is located in Garajau, east of Funchal on the top of a steep cliff. The funding came from a Caniço lawyer, Ayres d'Ornellas de Vasconcellos and his wife D. Maria de Jesus Souza e Holstein, in fulfillment of a pledge, according to the plaque.

Garajau cable carYou can see Funchal bay and Caniço de Baixo and there is a restaurant/café on hand. There's also a cable car that takes you down to Garajau beach - or a long winding road you can take as an alternative. On the beach there is a further restaurant/café and a dive centre. The surrounding waters are part of a marine nature reserve and popular with divers and snorkelers.

Although it's typically described as a viewing point in the tourist guides, it marks a rather macabre aspect of history. Until the establishment of the British Cemetery on the island in 1770, only Catholics were permitted burial on Madeira. Anyone else having the misfortune to die on the island was cast into the sea from this location.

Cristo Rei - Christ the King

The statue was struck by lightning in March 2021 and suffered damage which the authorities, presumably unprepared for divine friendly-fire, were initially slow to fix.

Getting there

If you're coming by car, there's ample parking.

From Caniço do Baixo, you can walk along the Estrada to Cristo Rei, though it can be a steep pull up the hill, particularly in full sunshine.

EACL bus 155 runs between Funchal and Caniço do Baixo and (roughly) half of the services pass through Garajau. You'll need to check the timetable to make sure you get the right bus: you can see the nearest bus stops at the top of the map below. There are also HF buses into Cancela, from where it's roughly a 40 minute walk.

© OpenStreetMap contributors