Much has been written about Quinta da Bacalhôa, but the conclusion
is always the same: it is a Masterpiece.
Renowned Portuguese and foreign historians have spent countless hours
piecing together a life that spans over 400 years. It has been a tireless
investigation of documents spread across the lives of different men. In
addition to scientific research, many popular tales were told, which, over
time, have provided us with legends that still hold true today... And thus
the history was retold and rewritten, beginning with the founders of the
Aviz Dynasty, discoverers of the world, who later crossed with descendents
of Brás de Albuquerque, son of the great conqueror of the Indies.
The prosperity that the Portuguese enjoyed over the years of their fantastic
adventures in uncharted waters, allowed these Men, who owned half the world,
to safeguard, as never before, the arts in Portugal. There was a succession
of them at Bacalhôa, inspired by their journeys across Europe, Africa
and the Far East, or simply in the spirit of Maecenas, surrounding themselves
with artists who influenced the architecture of the palace, its decoration
and the gardens, helping it become the precious and inimitable place it is
today. Historical accounts have always made reference to vineyards at the
Quinta. However, the real history of this great red wine begins in 1974 with
the planting of a vineyard that possessed a similar vine selection to that
of Bordeaux. The first harvest, launched on the market in 1979, produced
one of the most sought after Portuguese wines and helped to reinforce the
fame of the already exemplary Quinta da Bacalhôa. This time in the
realm of wine!
This Renaissance estate
has graced Portugal since 1554. Located just south of Lisbon, in the
region of Azeitão, Bacalhoa was originally built
by the son of a famous Portuguese mariner, Afonso de Albuquerque. Inspired
by Italian and Indian design, he commissioned a villa in the 16th-century
Italian Renaissance style. Characterized by a tasteful sense of restraint,
design includes extensive parterre gardens, easily viewed and appreciated
from the open-air balconies.
Based on a simple pattern of geometric squares, the gardens are fashioned out of carefully manicured boxwood--a living sculpture that requires a lot of maintenance but works well in this very arid climate. (There are no flowering plants since they require plenty of water.)
The remarkably ornate
garden is arranged around a central fountain. Each parterre displays
a different boxwood pattern, and each
has a distinct meaning: an "R" at the center of one symbolizes rei, which means king of Portugal. Topiaries in the form of slender obelisks punctuate the courtyard garden and add height and interest when viewed at eye level. The space exudes a calm elegance that provides an artful counterpoint to the home's simple geometric forms. A tall yew hedge surrounds the garden on three sides, giving the area a peaceful seclusion.
Just beyond the courtyard gardens stands a stately orange grove. The orange tree is evergreen in this climate, and here, planted in an area that's lower than the pavement, you always see a canopy of green. In Portugal where land is scarce, having function as well as form is a critical design and philosophical principle.
The large reflecting pool is considered one of the most important elements of the garden. Inspired by Indian reflecting pools, the retaining walls are two feet high. The water level is unexpectedly high, allowing the pool to more accurately reflect its surroundings. Elsewhere, elaborately decorated tile provides color in the garden.
a region to discover!
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Bernardo Costa Ramos