Sé is the abbreviation for Sedes Episcopalis (Episcopal Headquarters). Construction of the Sé Cathedral began in 1493 by order of, and, on land donated by King Manuel I. Completed in 1514 the Sé Cathedral was consecrated in 1517 by Bishop Duarte as the spire of the bell tower and a few additional details were finalized in 1517-1518. Contrary to the simple exterior of this gothic style building, the interior is quite impressive, a true architectural phenomenon.
The ceiling of the chancel is lined in native wood, ivory inlays, decorated in Mudejar style – oriental ornaments and motifs used in the Christianized Moors on the Iberian Peninsula. The various pieces of gilt highlight the architectural features of the manueline period, which meant a time of great progress and prosperity for Madeira.
Since 1955, a few pieces of art , from the Cathedral that were gifts from D.Manuel I , referred today as the “Treasures of the Cathedral”, may now on display at the Museum of Sacred Art. Such pieces include a baptismal fountain, the altar and the pulpit.
The opening to the chancel is defined by a triumphal arch. Here you will find many works of art made by hand in the form of tables and chairs that are divided into two rows. The backs are decorated with images of apostles and prophets, without neglecting the arms of the chairs which are crafted to the smallest detail with influences from the Middle Ages.