It is impossible to visit Porto without being struck by the city’s rich history. Portugal’s second city has a long and distinguished past, and one of the best ways to appreciate what life was like here in days gone by is to visit the Romantic Museum of Quinta da Macieirinha.
Located within the verdant landscapes of the Crystal Palace gardens, or Jardins do Palacio de Cristal, the Romantic Museum of Quinta da Macieirinha is a 19th-century mansion, which has been renovated and redesigned to provide an authentic snapshot of life in Porto, Portugal, during the 1800s.
The house was originally built for a merchant’s family before being bought by a port wine millionaire, Antonio Ferreira Pinto Basto, who transformed it into a summer house for his family.
It was here that King Carlo Alberto of Savoy and Piedmont-Sardinia, in Italy, took refuge, at the invitation of Pinto Basto, after losing the Battle of Novara against the Austrian empire. It was here, too, that the former King sadly ended his days on July 28, 1949.
The Romantic Museum of Quinta da Macieirinha eventually passed into the hands of the state. It was fully renovated and opened to the public in 1972 with the intention of bringing an understanding of the life of the bourgeoisie in 19th-century Portugal.
It recreates that world to perfection, the interior rich in design and opulent furnishings, with important artworks scattered throughout the rooms, providing an insight into the level of wealth that was enjoyed by Porto’s merchants and aristocracy during the period.
Of particular interest, perhaps unsurprisingly, are the rooms of King Carlo Alberto, which include some of his personal effects and a high degree of opulence in their adornment. The ballroom, billiard room, dressing room, dining room and guest room all serve to enlighten the visitor into the house’s rich history. Entry into the house costs in the region of €2 and there are discounts for student card holders. Entry is free of charge on certain weekends, and at all times for the over-65s and other concessions.
One of the reasons the house was so prominent in 19th-century Porto was thanks to its position, nestled within the landscaped gardens of the Palacio de Cristal and affording views over the Douro River and the rooftops of this extraordinary city. Make the most of your visit to the museum by taking a picnic and enjoying it amongst the greenery.
There are many acres of parkland here just waiting to be explored, and it is a popular haunt for both locals and visitors at all times of the year, from spring when the new blooms are just showing their face right through to the late autumn when the gardens take on a deep, autumnal glow.
Remember to leave time to visit the convention centre, which is housed in a dome on the site of the original crystal palace and which plays host to many music, sport, and entertainment events throughout the year.
With capacity for 10.000 spectators, this is one of the Portugal’s leading leisure venues.
Romantic Museum Quinta Macieirinha
Rua Entrequintas 220
Quinta da Macieirinha
Tel: +351 226 057 000
Fax: +351 226 068 534