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Funchal Municipality (Portugal)

Concelho do Funchal, Madeira

Last modified: 2015-06-02 by klaus-michael schneider
Keywords: funchal | sugar loaf | grape(bunch) | quina | desertas | selvagens |
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[Funchal municipality big scroll]
image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 27 Oct 1998 and 18 July 2004
[Funchal municipality]
image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 Mar 2012

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About the Flag

The flag of Funchal is a 2:3 purple over yellow gyronny (city rank), the coat of arms centred over all.

António Martins-Tuválkin, 22 Dec 1997 and 27 Oct 1998

Coat of arms

A round point shield (7:8) vert, five sugar loaves or striped purple laid in cross, cornered with four grape bunches fruited purple and leaved or, each charged with an ineschuteon azure, a saltire of silver bezants (“quina”). Silver mural crown with five visible towers (city rank). White scroll below the shield with upper case sans serif black lettering "A NOBRE E LEAL" (upper, smaller line) "CIDADE DO FUNCHAL" (lower, bigger line), meaning «The noble and loyal city of Funchal»). This flag is quite representative of Portuguese municipal and submunicipal flags, it’s only uniqueness is the two lines of text in the scroll (left flag image).

The five elements shown in the municipal coat of arms of FunchalMadeira are not beehives but rather sugarloaves, i.e., bread loaf shaped lumps of freshly cristalized sugar (conical mounds about 45 cm high and 30 cm at the base), reminding of traditional sugar industry, which had in Funchal its first post-classical production unit in Christian hands (during the Middle Ages sugar came from India to Europe brought by Arab and Central Asian merchants). (In Rio de Janeiro the famous Pão de Açúcar mound has the same name.
Nuno Melo e Sousa, António Martins-Tuválkin, 22 Dec 1997 and 27 Oct 1998 and Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 Mar 2012

The flag of Funchal is exactly as shown, but not really frequent in the city.
Ivan Sache, 18 Feb 2001

The atypical scroll set in two lines, which is locally used, according to many sources (incl. my eyes, in my visits there in 1995.06), is not prescribed by law (publ. Diário do Governo, I Série on March 24th, 1936), and the grapes are usually shown purple (proper), not golden as the law prescribes.
António Martins, 18 Jul 2004

In 2012 the scroll displayed simply "CIDADE DO FUNCHAL". This variant (right flag image) - and only this - was spotted in February 2012 in various places of the city, e.g. near the cathedral, on Autonomy Square, in front of the theatre, in front of the court, and in front of the local branch of Banco de Portugal. Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 Mar 2012

António Martins-Tuválkin,

Version without Coat of Arms

[ municipality plain] 2:3 image by António Martins-Tuválkin, Apr 2010

Plain (monocoloured) Portuguese subnational flags are not allowed to have variations without arms: plain flags always carry the coat of arms.
Jorge Candeias, 18 July 1999

Presentation of Funchal

Funchal is the regional capital of Madeira, being with it’s 115 840 inhabitants in 10 communes covering 76 km² by far the island’s largest settlement. This municipality also includes the neighbouring islets of Desertas and the remote Selvagens, 350 km to the south — thus being, if not the largest, the “vastest” Portuguese municipality.
António Martins, 27 Oct 1998

Selvagens and Desertas

These are two clusters of tiny islands near Madeira. None of them has a flag of it’s own: Both are Nature Reserves under the jurisdiction of Madeira’s Natural Park and both belong to the Funchal Municipality.

Desertas is a three island group, aligned North-South some 10 km southeast of the easternmost tip of Madeira, with a total area of about 20 km². They are clearly visible from southeastern Madeira. (I was lucky enough to visit these islands in May 1995, as an environmental journalist.)

Selvagens are much smaller and, despite the name, much less abrupt than Desertas. They consist of two islands and nearby islets and rocks arranged in two groups lying some 20 km southwest-northeast apart, 200 km south of Madeira, with a total area of only 2,73 km². These islands are in fact nearer to Canary Islands than to Madeira and there have been some recent and discrete moves of the Spanish Navy and Diplomacy to annexate the islands and/or revert its status to that of uninhabitable rock (cp. the Rackall case) so that Spain can have a lot more of its 200 nm Exclusive Economic Zone.

So the flags that are to be found on these islands are:

Unfortunately I could prove the existence of just three communal flags in Funchal. Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 Mar 2012

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