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Discover Portugal: Mata do Bussaco

We had heard whispers about a magical palace reconverted into a hotel, with a restaurant and wine produced exclusively for that estate. When we finally went to explore, we discovered a lush, green forest full of trails and vestiges of an almost forgotten era, with at its heart a legendary convent turned hotel.

Welcome to the fairytale that is Mata do Bussaco (also spelled Buçaco).

The Buçaco forest bears two papal bulls on one of its gates, forbidding women from entering and protecting the 105 hectares of “walled arboretum” from woodcutters or anyone else who might think of harming the trees. Today, it is recognized as one of the finest dendrological (wooded plants) collections in all of Europe.

Once the home of the Barefoot Carmelites, their legacy can be admired in the small chapels all around the forest. The convent was mostly destroyed to make room for a neo-Manueline palace designed as a retreat for the Portuguese Royal family. This space was turned into a luxury hotel, Buçaco Palace.

The history of Buçaco is not all peaceful, however, as it was the location of the Battle of Buçaco in 1810! You would never know, visiting today.

A forty-minute drive North of Coimbra, Buçaco’s microclimate means the morning are often foggy, lending an additional aura of peace and mystery to it all.

With easy trails connecting various viewpoints and points of interest throughout the park (to which the entry is free if you’re by foot or on a bike, and 2-15 euros if you’re in a vehicle), a helpful tourism office where they speak perfect English, and a small café, Buçaco is a perfect destination for nature lovers, couples, or families.

 

Photo Gallery (credit: Shahnaz Radjy)

 

In the area…

If you’re in the area, you might be interested in a place to stay – see options from Pure Portugal Holidays below:

And if you want to visit nearby properties, here are a few to get you started:

 

One thought on “Discover Portugal: Mata do Bussaco

  1. Went here in July, hotel itself is a little tired and could do with significant investment to upgrade bedrooms. Main reception area and loggia azure los are lovely Art Deco as is the beautiful frieze in the main sitting room area.Restaurant reasonable food but overpriced compared with the rest of Portugal.Grounds however are absolutely fabulous and would strongly recommend a visit.

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