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. 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 🙂

  2. Oh my! This is just heavenly, Jo. I would so love to walk there and admire all the beauty that you’ve showed us here, but for now, your stunning photos will have to suffice. Thanks for sharing. 🙂 xx

    1. No, Mary- I refuse to imagine it! I’m pretending Winter has been cancelled this year and we’re rolling straight into Spring.
      I can dream 🙂 Thank you!

  3. 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. 🙂

  4. 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

  5. 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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