A palace in warm sunshine

Restored to glory- the fountains at Estoi Palace

Restored to glory- the fountains at Estoi Palace

One of my treats to myself on my visit to the Algarve was the Garden Fair, being held at Estoi Palace for the first time this November.  When I came here 10 years ago, the palace was a down-at-heel ruin, but with enchanting grounds that cast their own spell.  The past was cupped in the chipped and empty fountains, and breathed through the azulejos adorning the walls.

I was half delighted, but half concerned to hear of a proposed restoration that would turn the palace into a pousada, one of Portugal’s elite hotels.  The transformation took many long years but, when the hotel finally opened its doors, I was hugely impressed.  The grand salon was grace and elegance, with incredible ceilings, and the gardens had been given a modern twist, yet retained the features that had made them so beautiful.  The new ‘add on’ for the hotel guest rooms was not so pleasing, but I was simply grateful that this lovely ruin had been given a life.

At this stage there was still much to do, and the ongoing work on the fountains and flights of stairs had placed them ‘out of bounds’.  I remembered wistfully when I had been able to wander at will, conjuring with dreams.  So it was, with a flutter of excitement, that I returned to Estoi for the Garden Fair.

The side gate to the palace

The side gate to the palace- the lion is genially on guard

I didn’t expect that tiny Estoi would be playing host to so many people that day, but as the sun beamed with unseasonable heat, it became clear that this was to be a popular event.  I was glad that I had arrived promptly for the 11am opening.  As one of the wardens pointed out to me, this is the Algarve’s only historic garden.

What else to enjoy the sunshine but cacti?

What better to enjoy the sunshine than cacti?



I have to admit that I didn’t linger as long as I might, delightful though it all was.  I could not wait to move on from the plant stalls and into the gardens.  The former coach house had been transformed into a magnificent exhibition space, with gleaming floors and chandelier embellishments.  Air plants nestled amongst the crafts, with potions made from herbs, and exquisite mosaics.  I eased myself past temptation and out into the garden.

Dappled shade led to the grand staircase

Dappled shade led to the grand staircase

The azulejos were as beautiful as I remembered

The azulejos as beautiful as I remembered

The details quite beguiling

The details quite beguiling

Looking back at my photos I don’t think I did the palace gardens justice, but you will have a general impression which I hope might tempt you to go there some day.  The palace itself is beautiful.  Perhaps I might take afternoon tea there one day and show you inside.

The palace and parterres

The palace and parterres

It may not reflect quite the type of warmth that Paula was thinking of, but I think this post might sit nicely on her Thursday’s Special.  Come with me and admire.



  1. That staircase adorned with the Azulejos is spectacular! And the fountain and mosaics aren’t too far behind. Hope you are completely recovered from your virus attack by now Jo.

    1. I had a portion of that staircase as my header for this post, Madhu, and I liked it so much that I kept it till this week, when I swopped it for the Nottingham mosaics. 🙂 I love the palazzo so much!

  2. I stopped by to bask in the sun, look at the wide variety of photographs and fill my mind with happy thoughts. This is a happy place to visit, learn some bits of history and science, along with sending my mind into travel adventures, Jo.

    1. I’m glad you did! 🙂 I’m currently going through my Inbox to try to reduce the number and I was about to visit you. I do try to spread a little warmth and sunshine. Nice to know that it sometimes works. 🙂

  3. Such a beautiful palace with all its sculptures, tile and mosaics. Blue and white looks so clean and cheery on a sunny day.

    You said there was a Garden Fair. Does that just mean that people were invited to view the gardens, or was there a fair of some sort on the grounds?

    1. Hi Nicki 🙂 It was, more accurately, a huge plant sale with some of the best growers in the Algarve. There were also talks and demonstrations and craft stalls. Some was outside of the palace grounds and some within. It really was a very high class event in a beautiful setting.

  4. There is something so beautiful about blue and white together, blanched by the sun against the striking deep blue sky. Your photos capture the art and the architecture so beautifully, everything in fact. Tea at the palace? Sounds divine. You MUST go next time Jo 🙂 Oh , and I forgot to say when commenting on your Saturday post that I was so glad to hear you got your smartphone up and running. That breakfast for your boy did the trick then? 😉 Thank you for the warmth of this beautiful post, just what I needed… 🙂

    1. Hi Sherri! Don’t you think Jude is in the right place? 🙂
      Thanks for the kind words. The smartfone is bugging me somewhat. I had to contact their Help to get it activated properly and I haven’t gone the hang of most of it yet. No patience, you see! Mick will just pull up the Instructions Manual online (when I’m in the middle of something important like talking to you!) and reel off ‘do this and this and this’. 😦 😦
      James not here to help but I did manage to send him 1 text, to which he replied ‘Bloody hell! Well done’. There you are. That’s my tale of woe 🙂 Must try harder.

      1. Yes, she definitely is 🙂 Oh modern technology, the joys…my laptop is playing up so if I disappear it won’t be because of stopping blogging (still here, yes, I know…can’t keep away, lol ;-)) Hope you get it sorted out with your phone…I don’t know why they call them ‘smart’ phones. I want my flip Motorola back, my smartphone drives me crazy. Just a thought, but if you are with O2 you can go to a shop and ask one of their ‘gurus’ for help (yes, it’s all true!). Keep me posted 🙂

  5. Finally got a decent connection! Though I really should get to bed as leaving here tomorrow and heading back to Dee Why (such an odd name, must find out why it is called that) to stay at son’s flat for a week. OH flying back to London tomorrow. Hope you are feeling better Jo. My cold seems to have passed its worst, though it has cost me a fortune in over the counter medication (except none of it actually was medicated – all natural remedies) and a pink grapefruit for breakfast every day!

    Love this place. Love the tiles. Love the succulents. I am definitely booking a holiday in Portugal for my birthday next year.

    Take care xx

    1. It’s in a lovely little village but you’d need a car to get around. The link ‘pousada’ takes you to the hotel’s website and I did see rooms on there for 100E for a double. Not too bad for a night or two, maybe, but the bedrooms are in an ‘add on’. Modern boxes- no idea what they’re like inside. 🙂

  6. Get well soon, Jo. This is lingering much too long. This restored palace is simply beautiful. The blue tile mosaics are amazing as well as the architecture. Love those little succulents. I must add some to my empty pots.

  7. Beautiful Jo.and I love that something old has been given new life. By doing the restoration the Portuguese have kept a little of their architectural history and they are to be commended for that.

  8. You gave yourself a very special treat, Jo, and us, too, with these lovely photos. Drink up their sunshine and wrap yourself in their beautiful colours and be well soon. (Phew, that’s a lot of instructions. Would you like me to add a few for your new phone, as well? 😉 )

    1. We bought two tiny wee ones to sit on our front, Gem. The neighbours will give them the odd splash of water if they need it.. The mosaics indoors were superb too. You’d have lingered 🙂

  9. really enjoyed this – and the collages always offer that more in-depth look. in fact, right when i was looking at all those blue and white tiles – I was wanting more -a nd then you gave us a collage of the tiles – so nice. 🙂

    1. I could just sit on those steps and admire the tiles endlessly, Yvette, but it was starting to get busy. I was giving them all the ‘go away’ scowl but they were too busy admiring to notice 🙂
      Happy weekend to you, love!

  10. There’s all that beautiful blue again, I love it! The place is awesome, so glad it was given a second chance and I’ll look forward to seeing what they did with the inside whenever you visit it again.

  11. It’s very Portugese, isn’t it Jo …? – all that beautiful tile-work …
    And the gardens are a must-see on another visit: I hereby put in a formal request. Please.

  12. Lovely turn of phrase again Jo: “The past was cupped in the chipped and empty fountains, and breathed through the azulejos adorning the walls” is perfect. As are the photos, especially of the staircase and azulejo. I look forward to afternoon tea inside!

    1. As do I, Meg! We went for Mick’s birthday the year the hotel opened and to be truthful the food wasn’t good. Hopefully it’s much better now but the salon is gorgeous. I could sit and be a lady of leisure, sipping elegantly with my little finger crooked. (maybe 🙂 )
      Thank you for your kindness. Have you heard from Jude lately?

      1. It’s right on the calendar, just not in my head! I woke at 3.30 having horrors that it was 20th (cleanup required: visitors are the only way I get housework done), got up to check and decided to stay up. See you on 25th. And I’ll be in touch before.

  13. I hope you set aside that ironing and are still pretending Jo 😉 ANOTHER lovely place you’ve shown us . Do so love blue and white tiles .

      1. Oh I HATE new phones Jo .. Is it a smartphone ? well of course it is ..except in this house they are called Daft Phones and banished to a dark cupboard and the sim put into a phone which is … simple 🙂 good Luck with it Jo .. some are really good I do know 🙂

  14. Jo – you take me such exquisite places! The architecture and colors are … Well I wish I was there!

    I love succulents and cactus of all kinds. When I was at a garden boutique recently, I saw the most unique wreaths and living wall hangings made from a variety of small succulents. They were stunning. I was traveling and couldn’t bring one home, but snapped photos to try ine next year on my patio wall.

    1. I was quite tempted by the air plants, Sammy, but because we don’t live there it’s not an option. We did buy 2 tiny cacti for our front, as a memento. They’ll be ok over the winter and our neighbours will splash a bit of water on them if necessary. 🙂

  15. Lovely walk in glorious sunshine on a grey and chilly day, dear Jo.
    I hope you feel better soon! Take good care and skip anything that’s not entirely good for you. >3

  16. You have no idea how well it sits ;). I can admire it from many angles that you chose with your expert eye, but I will still display the first one which seems to radiate warmth most. Thank you very much Jo. As for your Nordic walking you are entitled to skip it every once in a while. If your throat is still soar, it is a sign that you should stay indoors. In my part of the world many of us have been / are plagued by some sort of a mix between virus and bacterial infection (that is what docs say) and many complain of complete exhaustion that lasts for more than a month (yours truly included). I apologize for my scarce appearance too – I have to watch my hand. (I still haven’t seen all the photos I brought from Italy yet…)

    1. I’m glad for that, Paula. It was my intended post for today anyway but I thought it not a bad fit. 🙂 It’s chest and back pain more than anything but I’m blaming my husband, who started it all off. 🙂 I understand about your limited appearances. I’m still trying to catch up on here and to find my way into my smart phone. It’s so much cleverer than me. The old faithful went swimming off the coast of the Algarve and was never seen again. 😦
      Hugs, darlin’.

      1. Don’t worry, Paula. It’s just another virus. 🙂 Fit enough to iron (reluctantly 🙂 ) and watch Alex Polozzi’s ‘Secret Italy’ (very happily). Take care of yourself xx

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