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Estoi Palace's historic gardens handed over to Faro council's care

estoipalaceAt long last the gardens at the palace of Estoi formally have been handed over to the council to care for after years of neglect and lack of effort from Enatur, the company that owns and runs Portugal’s Pousada hotels.

Estoi Palace became a Pousada in 2008 after a €12 million refurbishment and the addition of a modern accommodation block that lies adjacent to the C18th palace.

According to Faro council, the concession in place that allows Enatur to run the hotel included a clause that the original garden to the south would be renovated by the company and then opened to the public.

The council has owned the palace since the ‘80s but allowed it to deteriorate until it was closed on safety grounds, finally being leased to Enatur in 2007 to be turned into a Pousada.  
The Faro Mayor said that the southern garden space now is open to the public and has a children's playground, “It is a significant area, beautiful to visit."
Rogério Bacalhau added that the next stage is to see what else needs to be done: "to find out if there is a need to make an investment or not to revitalise the space, depending on the use that it will be put to."
Bacalhau stressed that "there is already a tender out for the maintenance of the garden’s green spaces and for security staff."
Luís Castanheira Lopes from Enatur, said that the company had not only paid to have the building converted to hotel use, but (years late) had cleaned and repaired the southern section that is now open to the public and that now is under the responsibility of the autarchy.
The official said that the original protocol had been fulfilled, and hoped to "deepen the relationship with the Council, through which Pousadas de Portugal can develop new projects."


Estoi Palace history, by Rosie Peddle:

• 1800 Blueprints indicate a large farmhouse and extensive grounds planned by the first owner, the Canon Rector of Faro Cathedral, Joaquim Pedro de Costa Madial. This original, and somewhat plain, house was constructed towards the end of the 18th century and it is believed this is when the avenues and structure of the gardens were laid out.

• 1817 Buildings and land, now known as ‘The Garden’, are acquired by Colonel Francisco de Carvalhal.

• 1824 His son, Fernando, inherits and marries. He moves in royal circles and works at the Lisbon court from 1835. His ambition is to have his own splendid residence.

• 1840 Construction of the neo-classic jewel of a palace starts soon after a visit to the new Sintra royal palace near Lisbon by Fernando and his new wife. The building and gardens are planned as a summer home.

• 1875 The property remains in the family until this date, when, with the death of the last descendant, his will dictates that the property should be sold by auction and the monies should go to the poor of the district.

• 1893 The sadly neglected palace and gardens are sold to José Francisco Silva, a wealthy chemist and landowner from the Alentejo. This marks the first major restoration of the palace and gardens, and famous architect Domingos António da Silva Meira is engaged for the project.

• 1906 So major, impressive and expensive were the renovations that King Carlos rewards José with the title of Viscount of Estoi. A big celebration was held on May 2, a local holiday, with open house at the palace and gardens for thousands of people. The property remains in his family until…

• 1926 New owners took over and the palace remained in the Machado family until it was sold.

• 1987 Sale of the palace to Faro Câmara, maintenance and repairs became the responsibility of the small village of Estoi, an impossible burden and a slow but steady decline takes place. The gardens are open to the public but the peach-coloured palace has to be closed owing to its dangerous condition.

• 2007 Work finally begins to transform the building and immediate gardens into an historic design pousada in the national chain run by the Pestana Hotel Group. €12 million are dedicated to the second major restoration of the historic buildings and the construction of new bedrooms.

• 2008 The newly-renovated Estoi Palace Pousada hotel is open to the public. Unfortunately, owing to the general financial crisis there are no funds to complete the renovation of the lower gardens and they are still waiting for the landscaping and planting to complement the extensive work done on the statuary, tile panels and stonework.

(From 'The secret gardens of Estoi Palace' The Resident, Nov 5, 2014)

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+3 #2 JacquieF 2017-09-08 23:39
I agree Maryrose. This is a gorgeous palace and needs Portugal to pay attention to the past!! They are so wrapped up in new and modern buildings to accommodate the tourists and are forgetting the special historic buildings that they have. It's disgraceful
+2 #1 Maryrose Peddle 2017-09-08 20:24
Let us hope and pray that the complete vandalism and totally ruinous work of the past few years will now stop. This beautiful space desperately needs a sympathetic and well informed project. We have a potential jewel of the Algarve which had been consigned to the ignorant and uncaring management of those charged with its care.

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