History of Santa Maria Maior
Santa Maria Maior was the first civil parish being created in Funchal.This parish started to developed in 1425, with the constructions of the first homes.
According to historians, this civil parish owes its name to the first church - Santa maria - built in 1430. This temple, also known as Santa Maria do Calhau was built in honour of Santa Maria. This church was the seat of this civil parish until the construction of Sé (Cathedral), in 1508.
This church was destroyed severeal times by storm surges, forcing many people to concentrate in Funchal. By that time, there was a huge agglomeration in Funchal city, partly beacuse the construction of Sé Cathedral was finished. Due to this dramatic population growth, Santa Maria Maior lost its role as seat to Sé Cathedral.
In 1557, Santa Maria Maior was established as a civil parish.
In 1803 there was an alluvial flood which destroyed a great part of Nossa Senhora do Calhau Church, moving the parish seat to the Church of S. Tiago.
The administration of this civil parish remained under the ecclesiastical administration of the church and its parish commissioners. These commissioners were then replaced by magistrates who were proposed by the municipal council.
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