24th to 28th September 2019:

Hosted by Gerald Luckhurst, Lisbon-based author, plantsman and landscape architect, and led by Kirsty Fergusson

Portugal was once the richest country in Europe, a wealth based upon seafaring and trading. In the early 15th century, Prince Henry “the Navigator” discovered Madeira and the Azores. Bartolomeu Dias made it around the southern tip of Africa in 1487 and within 10 years Vasco da Gama opened-up the trade route to India. The small cargo of pepper he bought back was enough to pay for the trip three times over. Lisbon has been the capital of Portugal since 1260 but was greatly destroyed by earthquake in 1755. Many palaces and quintas date from the late 18th century during a period of lavish reconstruction in the region including the hill town of Sintra, the chosen site for the summer residences of royalty. Surrounded by the natural luxuriant vegetation and set amongst giant rock formations, waterfalls, the atmospheric twisted moss-covered boughs and ferny dells, it is not surprising that Sintra began to attract Romantic movement travellers of the 18th century. Byron immortalized Sintra by calling it “Glorious Eden”. Many of the gardens that we visit are embellished by azulejos (decorated glazed tiles) that are very much part of the story of the gardens and Portugal. We stay at two splendid hotels: Palácio de Seteais in Sintra is an elegant, late 18th century neoclassical palace with interiors of frescoed walls & tapestries and its own formal gardens, and at the wonderful art-deco Four Seasons Lisbon Ritz.


Day 1: Tuesday 24th September
Depart London Heathrow, Terminal 3, at 15:05 to Lisbon airport, arriving at 17:55 on British Airways flight BA0502. We travel from the airport by coach to Sintra to the hotel Palácio de Seteais with time to settle in before dining together.

Day 2: Wednesday 25th September
A short stroll to the eccentric early 19th century garden of Quinta da Regaleira. Conceived by Italian architect Luigi Manini for the owner, António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, a man of immense fortune who requested his new home to be in the Manueline style – after King Manuel who reigned 1495-1521. This was the summit of Portugal’s supremacy at sea. Abundant sculptural decoration with vegetative and marine motifs are found in profusion at Regaleira. Some say that the gardens represent ancient secret orders, others that it is more a theatrical treat. Either way there is great drama and much to amaze. Close by we visit a beautiful private garden with a special invitation to lunch. We then drive through the forests of Sintra by coach to visit Capuchos (or Cork) Convent, occupied for 300 years by a group of reclusive monks, and the exquisite Chalet da Condessa d’Edla, home of King Fernando II and his second wife, Elise Hensler, Countess of Elda as a refuge from the court. The Countess created a garden including a fern valley amongst majestic boulders. Return to Palácio de Seteais to dine together.

Day 3: Thursday 26th September
On the road from Sintra, we visit Monserrate, once an obligatory destination for Romantic Movement Grand Tourists following in the footsteps of Lord Byron who was inspired by his visit to the glorious ruins of William Beckford’s then home and extensive garden. Later, Sir Francis Cook embellished the original quinta and gardens. Recently, all has been carefully restored including the extensive botanical collections that are laid out geographically. Leaving the magic of Sintra, we travel to Palácio de Queluz for a simple lunch before visiting the palace and gardens including the tiled canal and the masterpieces of English sculpture, John Cheere. We then drive into Lisbon to the Four Seasons Lisbon Ritz for a warm welcome and time to settle in before fine dining together.

Day 4: Friday 27th September
Palácio dos Marqueses da Fronteira is one of Lisbon’s best kept secrets: originally a 17th century hunting lodge, it has been the family home since 1755. Both the intimate palace and the terraced garden feature some of the country’s finest glazed tiles – azulejos – representing different themes from battles to monkeys playing trumpets. Azulejos are an important element in many of the gardens of the tour, so much so that we include a visit in Lisbon to the Museu Nacional do Azulejo for a special tour with the curator. This evening we dine out in a fine restaurant in a converted palace that used to belong to António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, the original owner of Quinta da Regaleira visited earlier.

Day 5: Saturday 28th September
Quinta da Bacalhoa is a classic renaissance garden with a Portuguese twist. Created in the 16th century by the son of Alfonso de Albuquerque, following a visit to Italy, he created a garden with logia, patio and tank garden flanked with decorated pavilions. Later, it was discovered as a ruin by the American Scoville family who fell in love with the azulejos. Here we are offered a fine wine tasting and lunch. We then return to Lisbon airport to check in for the 18:45 departure on BA0503, arriving at London Heathrow, Terminal 3 at 21:20.

How much & what’s included:

Price per person: £3890 (Single supplement of £500 levied by the hotels)

The price includes two nights at the Palácio de Seteais in Sintra and two nights at Four Seasons Lisbon Ritz with all breakfasts included as well as three evening meals at the hotels with local wines plus one at a restaurant and three lunches as stated in the itinerary. The price does not include extras at the hotels or travel insurance. The tour starts at London Heathrow Tuesday 24th September: airline recommended check-in at 13:05 for the 15:05 departure of British Airways flight BA0502. Please contact the Boxwood office if you wish to obtain a quote to upgrade to Club Class. Those wishing to make their own travel arrangements should state this on the booking form and deduct £156 per person from the tour price. Hotels used by Boxwood Tours are invariably hotels of character featuring a variety of rooms & styles.

This tour is financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate

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