Portuguese gardens were built predominantly during the country’s two ‘golden ages’ in the 16th and 18th centuries, which were times of economic and colonial achievement. During the 19th century Portugal was invaded three times by the French, and the entire royal court fled to Brazil; no gardens were made during the French occupation. There was a slight revival of interest at the end of the civil war in 1834, when the new liberal aristocracy returned from their exile abroad, bringing with them novel ideas about the landscape style of gardening. By this time the country was scattered with empty convents and monasteries, which were sometimes bought by private owners who renovated or rebuilt the gardens in their grounds.
Portugal’s gardens benefit from the Atlantic climate: temperatures can reach 40 degrees at the height of summer, but annual rainfall is high and there are also many natural springs. Abundant water and a mild climate create ideal conditions for citrus.
The gardens featured in this gallery are all located in the northern half of the country: from one of the world’s first botanical gardens, in Lisbon, to the magnificent garden of Braga’s Biscainhos Palace, in the Minho region. Please return to the site over the coming months to watch the gallery grow.
For those with an interest, Helena Attlee’s book ‘The Gardens of Portugal’ (publ. Frances Lincoln) provides a wealth of further information and is well worth a read.