I saw it few years ago, before my first vacation in Portugal. The Buçaco Palace was looking at me from the pages of the guidebook. I couldn’t believe that the elegant interiors host one of the most beautiful hotels in the world. The building resembles a fairytale castle in the middle of an enchanted forest. Everything here is amazing, starting with the name: formerly written Bussaco and the modern writing is Buçaco. There was something amazing at every step: the interior design, the surrounding forest, azulejos panels, neo-manueline style… Find out what is so impressive about the Bussaco palace and what secrets it hides.
The History of Bussaco Palace
The Buçaco Palace was built in 1888 for the last kings of Portugal. It is two hours away from Lisbon and one hour from Porto. Hotel do Bussaco is a fairytale castle in the middle of an enchanted forest. It offers the unique experience of staying in a real royal palace. Since 1917, it has been considered one of the most beautiful, romantic and historic hotels in the world.
The palace is located inside the Mata Nacional do Bussaco, Portugal’s botanical and natural exlibris. This huge forest of 105 hectares was planted and walled by the Discalced Carmelites in the early 17th century. It abounds in plant species from all over the world, many of which are gigantic. The area provides countless and unforgettable walks in close contact with nature, among delightful fountains, chapels, hermitages and viewpoints. The Via Sacra and the Santa Cruz Monastery give this idyllic place a rare atmosphere of the greatest tranquility. At the center of this unique landscape and architectural complex is the Palace Hotel do Bussaco, a real royal palace in a fascinating Neo-Manueline style.
The Interiors of Bussaco Palace
The interior of the palace is decorated with a magnificent staircase, beautiful wooden furniture, numerous works of art, magnificent frescoes and valuable paintings. Fantastic panels of azulejos tiles decorating the walls depict the Epic of Portuguese Discoveries and the Battle of Bussaco. Those were created by the greatest Portuguese masters of the 19th century. Does the architecture of the palace remind you of anything? The author of the palace design is the architect Luigi Manini. He was also responsible for the plan of the famous Quinta da Regaleira Palace in Sintra, eagerly visited by tourists.
Mesa Real (the Royal Table) is a restaurant in the interiors of Bussaco Palace available to guests as well as to non-stayers. The former banquet hall of Bragança, where important royal feasts took place, today hosts one of the most beautiful and renowned restaurants in Portugal. Amazing Moorish ceiling and beautiful canvases by João Vaz illustrating passages from the book Lusíadas referring to Vasco da Gama’s journey to India,
Alexandre de Almeida, founder of Portugal’s oldest hotel chain created “Vinhos do Bussaco” in 1917. During numerous trips to European luxury hotels, especially the French ones on the Côte d’Azur, he got to know the concept of the Hotel-Vineyard. Alexandre decided to create his own wine cellar in the Bussaco Palace. A wine that was born was to become an icon, a true object of desire, but always deliberately kept out of the spotlight. Its creator, Alexandre de Almeida, adopted the concept of combining a luxury hotel with his own, original wine cellar. Let’s go back in time to the first harvest and we will realize the importance of this icon that was served to kings, queens and heads of state. This is evidenced by the old menus, proudly kept at the Hotel Palace Bussaco. Buçaco wine was and is an object of worship reserved for very narrow circles and the elite. Its fantastic labels still retain the symbol of nobility.
Buçaco wines were and still are vinified in the same way and with the same old methods. The fact that the grapes come from the Dão and Bairrada regions guarantees a brilliant wine that evolves nobly in the bottle. The wine is fermented and matured in French oak barrels for 12 months. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barrels.
Entrance to the Bussaco Forest area is free for those moving on foot. The price for entering by car is 5€.
Visiting hours: 9:00 – 19:00