According to Rui Carita (2014), João Gonçalves Zarco arrived in Funchal for the first time in 1420 and left the skiffs anchored to the two islets on the west side of the Funchal bay.
The islets and the surrounding area would later be seized by Zarco and his family. It was a large portion of Funchal between the Ribeira de São João (Creek of Saint John) and Ribeiro Seco (Dry Creek), where mostly grains and grapes were grown.
Zarco built his large wooden manor house next to the estuary of Ribeira de São João. His manor house was unfortunately burned by a fire, to clear the surrounding woods in order to make the land fit for cultivation. The family moved to a property that is now the Museum Quinta das Cruzes.
A section of the property of the islets was donated to the Monastery of Santa Clara (Saint Clare), leaving the rest to the family of Zarco and his direct heirs; the Counts of Calheta and the Marquises of Castelo Melhor. This was up until the 19th century, when it was rented by several other noble families on behalf of the Gonçalves da Câmara family.
Further down from D. Constança Rodrigues estate, a chapel dedicated to Saint Catherine was erected. Surrounding it, were six houses that were eventually rented to a young nobleman from the House of Avis. The nobleman also carried the titles of: the Duke of Viseu and Beja, Lord of Madeira and brother of Queen D. Leonor and was also to become a future King, D. Manuel I.
Diogo da Costa de Quental, a knight of the Order of Christ and his wife, D. Mécia de Vasconcelos - ordered the construction of the primitive Our Lady of Sorrows and Souls chapel in 1622.
Diogo da Costa de Quental even participated actively in the restoration of Independence when he generously gave his contribution towards paying the expenses from the Portuguese war with Castille.
In 1760 and 1770 the chapel and the Quinta were in the hands of one of the most distinguished ladies of national history: D. Guiomar Madalena. This lady controlled not only the Madeira wine trade in the 18th century, exporting more than half of the barrels produced there but she also gathered dozens of properties in both the archipelago as well as in Portugal mainland, Angústias being one of them. Angústias was actually one of her favorite places to escape from her busy lifestyle for a few months. So much so, that she eventually passed away in the Quinta.
In the 19th century, the Quinta das Angústias suffered some alterations - which lead to gradual reduction in its size when Conde de Carvalhal donated a part of the estate to the City Hall, where the Mercy Cemetery, later on becoming the Municipal Cemetery. Only in the 1940's did the Park of Saint Catherine appear.
Several historically important individuals passed through Quinta das Angústiasi> such as:Maximilian, Duke of Leuchtenberg (brother-in-law from Russian tzar), the widowed empress of Brazil, D. Amélia de Beauharnais (sister of Maximilian), Princess D. Maria Amélia de Bragança ( daughter of D. Amélia), Count Alexandre Carlos de Lambert - the cavalry general and helper of Tzar Alexander II da Rússia, that changed the name of the Quinta to Quinta Lambert - and Queen Adelaide from the United Kingdom.
In the 20th century, this estate functioned as the conservatoire until 1981, when it moved to the hotel known as Nova Avenida - where it can still be found today.
Some amendments were made to the Quinta in order to receive the Presidency of the Regional Government of today.
Alberto João Jardim, President of the Regional Government, signed the resolution
nº444/82 on the 3rd of June 1982. The resolution decided that Quinta Lambert or Quinta das Angústias would be officially named Quinta Vigia in order to highlight the old tradition of a Madeiran green space. This would later give way to allow for a space within which the Casino complex would be built.
The original Quinta da Vigia or Quinta Davies, which stood adjacent to the house of the Angústias - became famous for its renowned inhabitant, Empress Sissi of Austria, that stayed in the house for a few months.
The guided visit is an informative tour presented by one of our qualified guides to a group of visitors. These tours occur fortnightly on Tuesdays at 4 p.m and the duration is 1 hour.
The visit can be in either Portuguese, English, French, German or Spanish. They can be scheduled in our Naturalmente Português kiosk located on floor 1 of La Vie Shopping Centre. The tour can also be booked via our Gaudeamus - Academic shop, which is located beside Rua dos Ferreiros in the Old Jesuit's College, as well as by telephone: +351 291 705 060 or finally via our e-mail email@example.com.
The visit to Quinta Vigia starts with an in-depth historical contextualization of its changes throughout the centuries.
The visit to Our lady of Sorrows Chapel, will give you the chance to contemplate upon some of the most exquisite pieces of sacred art from the 17th and 18th Century. Our vast display includes gilded and polychromed wood paintings as well as the most intricate of artistic sculptures and tiles.
Several poignant and relevant topics are addressed in the tour, such as religious themes. This helps us raise dialogue around the Portuguese culture and how it has been both affected by, but also had an effect on - religion of today.
Inside the palace that is now home to the President of the Regional Government - the visitor can admire a beautiful furniture collection and exquisite art from the last 200 years.
On the first floor, you will find a reproduction of D. Catarina Henriqueta de Braganças (Catherine of Braganza) portrait; Princess of Portugal and Queen of England and Scotland, to whom Madeira was donated as a part of her marital dowry before being returned to the Portuguese Crown later on.
On the upper floor we have two grand saloons, finely decorated with quality antique English furniture from the 18th century in traditional Chippendale style. In the same rooms you can ponder upon original and authentic Nuremberga styled plates and chinaware, among many other things. Previous guests have commented on the natural romantic ambience felt in this section of the tour.
On the South side of the facade, stands a majestic balcony high above the garden - decorated with wicker furniture from the Island, coated in Portuguese neo-classical tiling inspired by the fables of La Fontaine.
The garden displays an array of exotic local plants, found standing proudly upon the most beautiful of traditional Madeiran pavement from the 18th century. The refreshingly natural environment is speckled with romantic sculptures and several species of tropical birds and fish.
Facing the sea beside the Casinha de Prazer, is the lookout of D. Guiomar, from which you are graced with the most breathtaking view of Funchal's bay and downtown area. Certainly a view to remember.