The Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden is the largest oriental garden in Europe, occupying about 35 hectares of the Quinta dos Loridos (a wine estate in the Leiria district, Portugal). And despite being known for its Buddha statues (which give it its name), the enclosure is made up of several green spaces, with ornamental ponds and curious sculptures.
Above all, the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden is a great tribute to different Asian cultures and religions. Here, you’ll be able to wander among giant Buddhas, pagoda towers, terracotta warriors of Xian, lakes with colorful Koi fish, and Chinese dragons carved in stone!
So, do you want to know How To Visit The Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden In 2023? Keep reading!
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- Brief History of the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden
- How to Get to the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden
- What to See at the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden
Brief History of the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden
The Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden was created in 2001 by Commander Joe Berardo, a Portuguese businessman and art collector, owner of Bacalhôa Vinhos de Portugal (the entity responsible for producing wines at the Quinta dos Loridos).
The idea for this project arose after, in March of the same year, the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan (two giant statues located in an area of Afghanistan, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2003: the Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley).
The Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden is both a tribute to a piece of World History and Heritage lost in the early 21st century and a protest against the radical ideologies and cultural barbarities committed by terrorist organizations such as the Taliban.
Denying any religious or spiritual tendency, the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden presents itself as a “garden of peace and tranquility”, where everyone is welcome (regardless of their beliefs, ethnicity, origin, gender, age, social status, etc.).
How to Get to the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden
On the day I went to see the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden, I chose to spend the morning in the medieval town of Óbidos, which is just 15 km away. In my opinion, Óbidos is one of the best places to visit in Portugal, so I really recommend you visit it. Especially because its Castle was elected one of the “7 Wonders of Portugal”!
The best way to get to the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden is by car, as the site is just over 3 km from the A8 (the Western Highway). So, if you’re in Lisbon, you just have to take “Exit 12 (Paúl / Carvalhal / Delgada)” of the A8 and follow the brown signs to the Buddha Eden. In all, the journey is less than 80 km!
For those in the North and Center of Portugal, the route is exactly the same, except that the exit mentions one more destination: “Exit 12 (Paúl / Carvalhal / Delgada / Bombarral Norte)”. But from then on, the indications are the same. The Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden is about 250 km from Porto, 180 km from Aveiro, 145 km from Coimbra, and 70 km from Leiria.
Opening Hours & Ticket Prices
The Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden (including the Wine Shop and Restaurant) is open every day, except on January 1st and December 25th. In January, February, and October-December, the opening hours are from 9 am to 6 pm, with the last entry being at 5:30 pm. In the remaining months (March to September), the enclosure is open from 9 am to 7 pm, with the last access at 6:30 pm.
Tickets have a single price of €5, although children up to 12 years old don’t pay admission. If you want to ride the Tourist Train, which passes through various points of interest mentioned in this guide, you have to pay an additional €4. The Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden offers free wine tasting in the Shop. Due to the size of the property, it’s not necessary to purchase tickets in advance.
What to See at the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden
Palm Trees Lake
The Palm Trees Lake is probably the first place you’ll pass by in the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden, as it’s right at the entrance, at the back of the stop from where the Tourist Train departs. If you have doubts about the location of this and other points of interest in this guide, you can photograph the map found at this stop or download it directly from the Buddha Eden’s official website.
As it’s easy to see from the name and the photo, Palm Trees Lake is surrounded by… palm trees! With a considerable size, this is a relaxing area, where you can see different varieties of Koi (or Nishikigoi) fish, which add color and movement to the water. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll also find small turtles sunbathing on the lake’s shores!
Garden of Modern Art
The Garden of Modern Art is a small sample of the Berardo Collection Museum (based at the CCB or Centro Cultural de Belém, in Lisbon). Made up mostly of modern and contemporary sculptures, it’s an authentic “open-air museum”, where works of art are displayed in the middle of nature.
Although some pieces are exchanged from time to time for others from the Berardo Collection, many are a constant presence in the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden. This is the case with the works of the American sculptor and painter Alexander Calder, the English sculptor and artist Lynn Chadwick, the Colombian figurative artist Fernando Botero, the British pop art painter and sculptor Allen Jones, the British sculptor Tony Cragg, and the Portuguese plastic artist Joana Vasconcelos.
The Bamboo Maze is an enigmatic place in the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden. For me, it’s not really a “maze” in the truest sense of the word, as you never get lost. But I believe it can be a lot of fun for the younger ones while remaining interesting for the older ones!
The meandering path of the Bamboo Maze is decorated with dozens of statues of animals, human figures, and others a bit more abstract. Although they are all anonymous – at least none of the ones I saw had the author or the name of the work identified – they are very similar to some pieces from the African Sculpture Garden.
African Sculpture Garden
I don’t know if everyone agrees, but this is my favorite place in Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden. I mean, not only was it the point of interest that I liked the most, but it also seemed to me to be the best in the entire park, due to its considerable dimensions and the fascinating works of art it presents.
The more than two hundred African Sculptures appear to be randomly distributed in the shade of palm trees, but most of them are dedicated to the Xonas of Zimbabwe. The Xonas are people known for the tradition of carving stone and working iron, in order to produce works of art that link the physical and spiritual worlds.
Besides, they believe in ancient spirits called Vadzimu, who dwell in the rocks and wait to be released! Many of these African statues from the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden were crafted in opal stone, but I confess that I also loved the procession of animals made of iron. I don’t know why, but it reminded me of the African Savannah from the Gallery of Evolution (in Paris, France)!
Xian Terracota Warriors
Almost everyone has heard of the Warriors of Xian, the mythical terracotta army of Qui Shi Huang (China’s first Emperor). The thousands of original soldiers, horses, and carriages date back to the late 3rd century BC, although they were only discovered in 1974!
The Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden recreated six hundred Xian Warriors, who are displayed in two large groups on opposite sides of the enclosure. They are also made in terracotta but were painted in “Blue Klein” (officially IKB or International Klein Blue) a few years ago. Now they clearly stand out from the landscape!
Staircase of the Golden Buddhas
The Staircase of the Golden Buddhas is the most popular spot in the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden on social media. No wonder, it’s such a photogenic staircase, right? This is also the heart of the garden, as it’s the great tribute to the Buddhas of Bamiyan destroyed by the Taliban and the one that gives its name to the Buddha Eden.
The “Buddhas Paradise” takes visitors up to several flights of stairs to the Lying Buddha (or Reclining Buddha), an iconic representation of Buddhist art. This pose symbolizes the last moments of the Buddha’s life on Earth. Along the way, there are eight other statues of Buddhas in gold and marble.
Did you know that more than 6,000 tons of marble and granite were used to create all the statues and structures you see in the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden?
It seems like a far-fetched number, but after seeing this 21 meters tall Giant Buddha, it’s easy to understand this megalomaniac and impressive amount of raw material!
Due to its colossal stature, the Giant Buddha can be seen from any part of the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden. And together with the Staircase of the Golden Buddhas, it’s one of the stops of the Tourist Train.
When I visited the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden, I don’t remember having come across other visitors between the Giant Buddha and the Pagoda Towers.
Perhaps it’s because these temples are located in a more secluded (and naturally, quieter) area of the park, but here you can only hear the ripple of the treetops in the wind and the water that runs through the Lakes of Tranquility right next door.
In the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden, it’s possible to admire three stone pagodas, inspired by the pagodas of Nepal, China, Japan, and other Asian countries.
Lakes of Tranquility
The Lakes of Tranquility are exactly what their name describes: a place where peace of mind and serenity reign. This stillness, combined with the fact that the surrounding landscape is of overwhelming natural beauty, makes the Lakes of Tranquility one of my favorite points of interest in the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden!
Altogether, there are four Lakes of Tranquility (interconnected by waterfalls and canals), which descend the slope and bring water to the large Pagoda Lake If you’re visiting these “attractions” in the order that the official map of the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden indicates, you’ll end up following its natural watercourse.
Despite being located at one of the ends of the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden, the Fire Viewpoint is just a few meters from one of the four stations of the tourist train in the enclosure (the others have already been mentioned and are located at the Entrance, the Staircase of the Golden Buddhas, and the Giant Buddha).
The Fire Viewpoint is a place full of symbolism, surrounded by various types of stone statues, similar to those displayed in the Bamboo Maze and the African Sculpture Garden. And of course, it’s a panoramic “viewpoint”, with stunning views of Pagoda Lake and the vineyards of the Quinta dos Loridos!
The Pagoda Lake is the largest of the ornamental lakes in the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden. Its widest area is found at the exit of the Lakes of Tranquility (and consequently, at the base of the Staircase of the Golden Buddhas), although Pagoda Lake extends to the other end of the park, next to the Warriors of Xian and the African Sculpture Garden.
At Pagoda Lake, you can follow a bridge in reddish tones, punctuated by “torii” (ie, traditional Japanese gates normally placed at the entrance of Shinto temples). This bridge takes you to the Bandstand in the heart of the lake, one of the most photographed “attractions” in the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden.
Thirteen Buddhas of the Dead
The “Thirteen Buddhas” are a group of Buddhist deities from Japan, widely used in funeral rituals. In essence, each of these buddhas is devoted on a specific date after the person’s death and also corresponds to a funeral service of its own.
Located almost in the final stretch of the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden, the Thirteen Buddhas of the Dead are lined up in front of Pagoda Lake. Each of them has a small plaque with the name and description of each deity. From here, you can continue along the Lake Walk, heading towards the exit (through the Wine Shop).
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