After touring Spain I was really excited to discover Portugal, planned my trip around medieval villages, castles, forts and ports but Bussaco Palace was not only a castle also our hotel for a night. As you all know castles and forts were built on hilltops so I thought I would spot this from a distance but it wasn’t visible at all. After leaving Lisbon we visited several castles, stopped for sightseeing in Coimbra and arrived to Mealhada at night. The road to Bussaco Palace left me wondering if we were going to end up in somebody’s driveway when all of a sudden there she was with her glorious beauty, a tucked away shining star. Our jaw dropped when we first spotted this illuminated castle while the smell of pine trees combined with the sweet fragrance of magnolia, jasmine and roses tickled our noses. We normally check-in hotels quickly and settle down but this time we took forever to make our way from the parking lot to the reception. My family took off in different directions leaving the luggages to me, nobody cared about our room numbers yet. They slowly appeared one by one holding not one but two cameras and told me that they wanted to get up early the next day and see this in daylight. What a way to end our day, after seeing castles all day long we were actually spending a night in one!
The Palace Hotel of Bussaco is located in the heart of the National Forest Bussaco, right in the middle of Portugal, in the known Bairrada region. The Bussaco forrest is many centuries old, planted and cultivated by the Barefoot Carmelite Monks who lived in cloistered confinement and contemplation for more than 200 years, from 1630 to 1834. This magnificent natural alter was blessed and protected by a papal bull issued by Pope Urban VIII in 1634.
The walls that protect the forest are more than 5,000 kilometers long and have several gate entrances. The “Portas de Coimbra” , the gate that served as the entrance to the Monastery, still incorporate the Papal Bulls, which at the time prohibited the cutting down of the trees and banned women from entering the forest – and consists of two imposing gates with the walls covered in the pebble inlay work, so characteristic of the Carmelites area. Adjacent to the “Portas de Sula” is the monument commemorating the Battle of Bussaco, which took place nearby on September 27, 1810 between the Anglo-Portuguese forces led by the Duke of Wellington and Napoleonic troops under General Massena.
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