Discovering Viseu through its countless gardens and parks is a fascinating journey across Portugal's garden city. A truly well-deserved label that the city proudly exhibits since 1935 !
Aquilino Ribeiro Municipal Park
In 1834 the Convent of Santo António dos Capuchos ceased to exist in this place, but the Park Aquilino Ribeiro has kept the imposing oak trees (Quercus spp.) that dominate the park and used to belong to the ancient woods, chestnut trees, white poplars (Populus alba), magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora), stone pines, plane trees and lime trees (Tilia cordata), offering shade to the Capuchos friars.
The project of the landscape architect Facco Vianna Barreto has valued the Park in the beginning of the 21st century. He was also in charge of the original renovation project in 1954. Now there is a sensory garden with Braille characters, allowing blind people to touch, smell and feel the flowers. The Park became more romantic and peaceful.
Inside the park we can find the Baroque Church of the Third Order of St. Francis and the 16th century Chapel of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias.
Tomás Ribeiro Garden
Beautifully placed in front of the magnificent Church of the Third Order of St. Francis, this garden pays homage to the Portuguese poet Tomás Ribeiro. The circular-shaped monument is composed of granite elements and tile panels with a central medallion representing Tomás Ribeiro. Jorge Colaço, the poet's son-in-law, was the author of the paintings. A bucolic spot at heart of the city.
Departing from Rossio square to Almeida Moreira Museum, located in Largo Major Teles, we find a small garden of dazzling shades offered by pansies, petunias, roses, tagetes, cane begonias and agapanthus. Two magnificent cypresses flank one of its entrances and a specimen of holly stands firm on this sloping site.
Symbol of love, the rose is an attraction in this garden. With petals as delicate as a mother's caress, the roses complete the peace conveyed by the bronze sculpture of a sleeping boy on his mother's lap. As guardians of the statue, two fragrant deciduous magnolias herald the miracle of spring.
The statue of the Mother at the centre of this dazzling garden was offered to the city by the sculptor José Oliveira Ferreira (1883-1942), because his mother was born in Viseu.
A walk through this spacious leisure area in which the natural and historical heritage comes together can be an invigorating alternative to days spent in Viseu.
Here you will find swimming pools, a campsite, tennis courts and football pitches, a gymnasium and a jogging circuit inside a green area enriched by many kinds of ancient trees, where the environment has been so carefully preserved that it was awarded the Prémio Quercus 1993 - Iniciativa Autárquica" ("Quercus Prize 1993 - Local Authority initiative").
The history of this fine space dates from 1149 when the Bishop of Viseu, D. Odório, bought the Herdade de Fontelo (Fontelo Estate). Bishop João Homem began the construction of the palace in 1399, and this was continued by other prelates who succeedd him. Fontelo achieved its greatest splendour in the 16th century on the initiative of Bishop D. Miguel da Silva, a powerful church dignitary who coveted the papal tiara, and an enormously wealthy man with a taste for the Renaissance, when it became one of the most exotic and opulent leisure estates in Portugal, much in fashion among the nobility and wealthy clergy in the 16th century.
Nowadays, although reduced in size and splendour from how it must have been at the time of D. Miguel da Silva, the Parque do Fontelo is no longer for the exclusive pleasure of an elite but has become a wholesome area for leisure and sport accessible to all those who wish to enjoy it.
Quinta da Cruz - Centre for Contemporary Art
Quinta da Cruz is a Centre for Contemporary Art placed in a beautiful natural setting in the outskirts of Viseu.
Bought by Nicolau de Mendonça Falcão do Amaral at the end of the 18th century, the whole property covers a 10 ha green area, inhabited by exotic botanical species, along with indigenous plants.
In 2014 Quinta da Cruz reopened its doors as a Centre for Contemporary Art. The main goal was to bring the local community closer to art, while attracting new audiences. It presents temporary exhibitions, creative workshops and programmes designed for families.
A place where art meets nature.