Ramalho Ortigão the distinguished Portuguese writer and traveller wrote in the 19th century: "There’s nothing in the world more pleasant to a Lusitanian heart than travelling in Portugal". Undoubtedly there are innumerable cities, small villages, rivers, landscapes, gardens, across the country worth a visit by people looking for new experiences.
Our journey starts in Terras de Basto is a beautiful hilly region where the Casa do Campo, a sumptuous manor house is situated near Celorico de Basto. The house has a chapel, a swimming pool, a games room and tennis court but the high point is the beguiling baroque gardens replete with camellias that have often been entered in international garden festivals.
In Guimarães Casa de Sezim is a great example of the Solares de Portugal gardens. Inside a wine producer farm, at short distance from the centre of Guimarães, this manor houses is surrounded by green gardens and orchards.
Ponte de Lima is often described as “The Garden of Portugal” due to its enormous beauty. Throughout the valley between Santa Maria Madalena and Santo Ovídio flows the Lima River with green and blue tones bathing the sands banks of the oldest village in the country. Near the riverbank extensive and fertile valleys, rich in agricultural and botanical species, are a great location for long walks.
Flower lovers will appreciate the Park of the Arnado with the botanical garden and its beautiful greenhouse. Walking around this area has been described by many poets born in the region: the landscapes of the Arga Mountain, the ascent to the Vacariça belvedere, the chapels that harbour historical memories of the crusaders, the evening fragrances of the Lima river or the excitement of the fortnightly trade fairs.
By foot, bicycle, or riding a horse the most adventurous can follow the Ecovia route through protected landscape of great beauty all the way to the Bertiandos and S. Pedro de Arcos lagoons.
In Calheiros, on the right bank of the Lima the Paço de Calheiros is considered one of the most beautiful examples of 17th century manor houses in Portugal. It is located in the upper part of a hill full of vineyards where you can appreciate a magnificent view over the Lima Valley. The Paço is surrounded by splendid 17th century gardens. Horse riding, a swimming pool and wine tasting are some of the attractions of a house owned by the same family since the 14th century.
The Solares de Portugal are dedicated to introducing the magic of Portugal’s Gardens of Eden and the beauty of the countryside with its rich variety of flora for you to experience and enjoy.
On entering the splendid gateway of this noble 17th Century manor house, one immediately detects the pervading floral scent. Casa do Campo boasts a prize-winning garden, with its immaculately trimmed Camellias contoured into graceful designs. Specialists claim that the oldest Camellia in Portugal is to be found here. Visitors to this manor will also discover a Renaissance chapel in the grounds which holds a weekly mass.
Casa de Sezim’s interior has captured a style of simple elegance with its exquisitely decorated bedrooms, some furnished with four poster beds. Within its impressive sitting rooms hang early 19th century panoramic wallpapers depicting scenes from both the old and new world of America. Wine production at Sezim dates back to at least 1930, with the old wine-making equipment still to be seen on the grounds. Nowadays, the Vinho Verde produced here is of prize winning category.
Located on a high hill of vineyards with wonderful views of the Lima Valley below, Paço de Calheiros is considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of 17th century manor houses in Portugal. It is set in splendid gardens and is noted for its impressive entrance and tree-lined drive leading to an ancient stone fountain shaded by a wonderful magnolia tree. Horse-riding and wine-tasting are among the attractions of the house owned by the Count of Calheiros’ family for more than 600 years.
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