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Serra do Bussaco, Portugal

The Bussaco Forest Park, National Monument

The Bussaco Forest Park, National Monument

The Serra do Bussaco

The Bussaco Forest Park (Serra do Bussaco), 105 hectares with a diameter of 5 km, is classified as a National Monument in Portugal. The park is widely praised by botanists from all over Europe. The Buçaco Forest is a dense wood, many centuries old, where the trees are of a gigantic stature and are rich in essences, fragrances and brilliance.

Over the centuries, monks and government foresters have planted nearly 400 Portuguese varieties of trees, shrubs, and flowers while importing some 300 species from as far away as Mexico, Chile, and Japan and from many other places all over the world.

The Palace of Bussaco

The Palace of Bussaco

In the 19th Century, the Portuguese royal family commissioned an Italian operatic scene painter and architect to build a summer palace and hunting lodge in the Buçaco Forest.
The building was completed in 1907, shortly before the assassination of the king and crown prince. The king's Swiss chef obtained government permission to turn the palace into a hotel in 1910, and guests have been wallowing in pseudo-Manueline architecture and Edwardian comforts ever since.

It became one of Portugal's greatest houses and one of the most fascinating and historic hotels of the world, with a continuing tradition of the ultimate in luxury. The spa town of Luso is just 2 km away.

The restaurant of the Bussaco Hotel

The restaurant

The restaurant, offers classic French and Portuguese cuisine and its exclusive Buçaco wines, mis en bouteille au chateau, are a must. In all a remarkable experience not to be missed in Portugal and for a very reasonable price.

Walks in the Serra do Bussaco

Walks and things to see

From a mountain spring, water bounces downhill over 144 steps in a cool, shaded forest setting. Follow the lakeside path to the Fern Alley. This will lead you past the Grottoes Gate via groves of cypresses and other exotic trees. At one point, you can head uphill to a scenic overlook at the Coimbra Gate before heading back to the hotel through the Cedar Alley.

Cruz Alta

As you follow the stations of the cross up the hillside, you'll pass a series of large shrines containing life-size terracotta figures of Christ, his disciples, and other characters in the Crucifixion story. The hike terminates in the Cruz Alta, or High Cross, which offers views of the forested mountains and the Palace Hotel.

Cruz Alta, Serra do Bussaco

Carmelite Monastery

Most of the monastery was torn down during the construction of the royal summer palace, but a few portions remain--among them, a chapel (with innumerable photos of the religious faithful hoping for miracles) and several of the old monks' cells, which are lined with cork for insulation against the winter cold.

Museum of the Peninsular War

This small museum commemorates the Battle of Buçaco and other key battles during Napoleon's attempts to conquer Iberia and destroy the Portuguese alliance with Great Britain, which dates back to 1373.

Serra do Bussaco, Portugal

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