The Royal Hunting Park of Mafra was founded by King João V in 1747, following the construction of the Palace-Convent of Mafra. With almost 1200 hectares, the Royal Hunting Park of Mafra served as a hunting and leisure place for Portuguese royalty. In 1910, the site was renamed the National Hunting Park of Mafra and was used for hunting. Nowadays, it’s focused on ecotourism and adventure tourism, promoting races, hiking and mountain biking tracks, carriage and electric car rides, and much more!
Gardens and Parks
The National Palace of Queluz is one of the most important palaces in Portugal, as it served as the residence of three generations of the Portuguese Royal Family. On top of that, it’s the most luxurious Portuguese palace of all, with architectural, landscape, and decorative elements from the Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassicist periods! In addition to dozens of magnificent halls and rooms, the National Palace of Queluz is made up of numerous outdoor patios, lush gardens, and ornamental ponds!
The National Forest of the Seven Hills is the main park in Tomar. With about 39 hectares, it’s also called Fence of the Convent of Christ, as it was owned by the Order of Christ until the extinction of religious orders in 1834. Nowadays, the National Forest of the Seven Hills is the ideal place in Tomar for walking, doing sports, and enjoying nature and the outdoors. Here, you’ll find several picnic parks and hiking trails, as well as a children’s playground and other points of interest!
The Horto de Camões Garden is a themed garden dedicated to the life and work of Luís de Camões – the greatest figure in Lusophone literature and author of the epic poem “The Lusiads”, where he recounts the sea voyage of Vasco da Gama to India. Besides gathering 52 botanical species mentioned by the poet, this green space is composed of structures alluding to places in Africa and Asia. Designed by the landscape architect Gonçalo Ribeiro Teles, the Horto de Camões Garden is located in Constância!
The Tuileries Garden is the most famous garden in Paris and one of the most pleasant places to stroll in the French capital. The history of this green park dates back to the 16th century when it was created in the Italian style to beautify the Tuileries Palace. A century later, the landscape architect André Le Nôtre (author of the gardens of the Palace of Versailles and the Palace of Fontainebleau) turned it into the current French garden, with symmetrical flower beds and decorative statues!
The Villa Sassetti is the perfect fusion of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra, with architectural and landscape details reminiscent of other historic buildings in the Portuguese town. Its history began in 1885 when Victor Carlos Sassetti decided to build a summer house based on the castles of Lombardy. The result was a Mediterranean-inspired “villa”, thanks to the circular tower in Lombard Romanesque style, the terracotta tones, the Portuguese tiles, and the granite from the Sintra Mountains!
The Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra is a must-visit monument for architecture, landscaping, and mysticism lovers. And did you know that the property hides mystical structures, magical sceneries, and alchemical symbols linked to Freemasonry, the Templars, and the Rosicrucian Order? Built at the end of the 19th century, the Quinta da Regaleira is made up of a luxurious palace and an enigmatic garden, which reflect the interests of its owner: the millionaire António Augusto de Carvalho Monteiro!
The Chalet of the Countess of Edla in Sintra was idealized by King Ferdinand II and Elise Hensler (his second wife) between 1864 and 1869. You can find it in the heart of the Pena Park, less than 2 km from the National Palace of Pena, the highest exponent of romantic architecture in Portugal. Designed in the style of alpine chalets, the Chalet of the Countess of Edla is a modest residence and a country retreat, which allowed the king and the countess to live far away from the Portuguese Court!
When people ask me what to do in Lisbon, I always suggest spending a 1 or 2 in Sintra, the land of enchanted palaces! The National Palace of Pena is the king of them all, with endless panoramic views and colors reminiscent of Disneyland castles. In addition to having been elected one of the 7 Wonders of Portugal, the Pena Palace is considered the first romantic palace in Europe. For that reason, it was the inspiration for other historic buildings, including the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria!
Park Güell (in Catalan, Parc Güell) is an urban park designed by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona. Besides, it’s one of 7 works by the architect distinguished as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The idea for the creation of Park Güell came from Eusebi Güell, who wanted to build a luxury condominium inspired by the English concept of “garden cities”. The initial project had 60 houses, streets, squares, and viaducts. However, the urbanization proved to be a failure and was converted into a public park!