About the garden
The Park of Monserrate, in Sintra, which includes one of Portugal’s richest botanical gardens and a Palace, is a unique testimony to the eclecticism of the 19th century, where the exotic plant motifs of the interior extend harmoniously outside. Considered one of the most important English landscape gardens beyond Britain, the property has had several British owners since the 18th century.
Gerard de Visme built a neo-gothic style house there, which was later occupied by William Beckford. Lord Byron visited and described it in ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’. Eventually, Francis Cook purchased the property and, together with the architect James Knowles, transformed the house into a style that combined Gothic, Indian and Moorish influences.
The surrounding gardens received species from all over the world which were organised according to their geographic areas, reflecting the diverse origins of the plants and forming landscapes along the paths between ruins, recesses, lakes and waterfalls. Areas of note include the garden of Mexico, Rose Garden and the Ornamental Lakes.
It is largely thanks to the intervention of landscaper William Stockdale, botanist William Neville, master gardener James Burt and the romantic spirit of Francis Cook that today Monserrate features such contrasting scenes. Winding paths sit side-by-side with spontaneous regional species, such as strawberry trees, very rare hollies and imposing cork oaks that connect seamlessly with ancestral tree ferns and araucarias, agaves and palm trees that recreate a scene from Mexico, as well as the camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons and bamboo that evoke a garden from Japan.
Acquired by the Portuguese government in 1949, Monserrate was later entrusted to Parques de Sintra. After extensive refurbishment works, the Palace reopened in 2010. In 2013, the Park of Monserrate was bestowed with a European Garden Award under the category of the ‘Best Development of a Historic Park or Garden’.