Monserrate, an ode to Romanticism
Monserrate is an ode to the Romanticism comprising a marvelous neo-Moorish palace and a romantic garden, with species from the entire world
Since its early years Monserrate had its share of abandonment periods up to the day it was bought by Sir Francis Cook, Viscount of Monserrate, who was the main responsible for the park and the palace being what they are today.
But lets not put the cart before the horse and it is better if I start by the beginning. By 1540 Frei Gaspar Preto decided to build a chapel devoted to Our Lady of Monserrate at the property then designed as Quinta da Bela Vista, belonging to All Saint’s Hospital. According to an ancient legend the chapel was erected on the exact place a young Mozarab knight was buried as a martyr of the fights against the Moors.
In 1640 the hospital leased the property to the well-respected Mello e Castro family and in 1718, Don Caetano de Mello e Castro, viceroy of India bought Monserrate. Unfortunately the 1755 earthquake destroyed all the improvements done under the orders of the Mello e Castro family and by 1790 Monserrate changes hands once again. Gerard De Visme, a rich British trade leases the property and orders the construction of a neo gothic palace.
Yet only four years later Gerard De Visme leaves Monserrate that was sublet to William Beckford, who improved the palace conditions and was the first to create a romantic garden.
After the departure of Beckford in 1799 Monserrate is abandoned once more. In spite of the degradation, in 1809 Lord Byron describes Monserrate as the most beautiful place of the kingdom and praises the natural beauty of the property in his book Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.
In 1856 Francis Cook, an English millionaire, who is going to be the 1st Viscount of Monserrate, buys the land and the property is finally going to meet its height. The palace is rebuilt following the neo-Moorish style and a botanic garden is created under the inspiration of the English Romanticism. The work is carried out with the contribution of the landscape painter William Stockdale, the botanist William Nevill and the gardener James Burt. Together they created a nature masterpiece, using native species such as arbutus, cork oak and holly, for instance, as well as plants from different parts of the world. Therefore while exploring Monserrate Park you will be going on a botanic journey through the five continents.
Cooks project has been maintained and even improved by the Portuguese state and, since September 2000, by Parques de Sintra-Monte da Lua, S.A., the company responsible for maintenance and exploitation of some of the most emblematic places of Sintra.
(closed January 1st and December 25th)
– High Season – April 1st to October 25th
Park – 9:30 am to 8 pm (last entry at 7 pm)
Palace – 9:30 am to 12:45 pm and 2 pm to 6:45 pm
From April 1st 2011
(Ticket includes a visit to the Park and part of the Palace)
Children (up to 5 years old) – free
Under 18´s (6 to 17 years old) – 5€
Adult (18 to 64 years old) – 6€
Senior (over 64 years old) – 5€
Youth Card – 5,5€
Lisbon Card – 4€
Family ticket (2 adults and under 18s) – from 16€
Monserrate Official Site