The Dão Historic Gardens Route has its core in the vity of Viseu and the remarkable estate farms around it. The city is developped around the ancient cathedral that is on the top of the street and shares a wall with the Grão Vasco Museum.
This is a historical city right in the heart of Portugal’s countryside, where is hot and cold to burn and freeze. The Dão and Mondego rivers and its affluents created narrow and deep valleys, surrounded by the Caramulo, Bucaço and Estrela Mountain Ranges. In the estates there are broad fields and leafy woods that can be accessed by long buxus paths, sometimes bay laurels or camellias that hide orchards and vegetable gardens behind them. There are also gardens and aveloz. The water springs from the granite and flows through canals and channels to tanks and fountains spread around courtyards and avenues. The overviews stretch towards the Estrela and Caramulo Mountain Ranges.
The bishop D. Miguel da Silva (1486-1556), ambassador in Rome, Bishop of Viseu and Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, is a key figure to the story of the route. He created a true court bringing the architect Francesco da Cremona (1480-1550) from Rome with whom he revolutionized the city’s architecture and culture. His legacy is diverse - from the Cathedral’s Renaissance cloister to the Episcopal Palace in Fontelo Estate that has impressed his contemporaries. Today, the estate is open under the name of Fontelo Park. The Quinta dos Condes da Anadia in Mangualde, Quinta do Loureiro in Silgueiros, Quinta de Chão de São Francisco are some of the estates where it is possible to see this inspirational work. There were several estate farms in the Pavia Valley, in Viseu. Today this memory is on the Quinta de Santa Cruz, owned by the City Hall. Other public recreational areas show their value as a heritage such as the Cava de Viriato. With its gardens and woods, the Quinta da Ínsua is a trade mark and the guardian of such an important and unique history.
The project Santar Vila Jardim, in the southern county of Nelas, managed by the owners of the House of the Counts of Santar and Magalhães that gathers the Fidalgas, Magnólia, Ibérico Nogueira houses and the Misericórdia de Santar under the control of Fernando Caruncho. Here, walls were destroyed to gather the neighrbor’s gardens, vegetable gardens and woods thus creating a quality experience.
Besides the ancient and modern estate farms, the gardens and public parks in Viseu, the Route also comprises religious spaces such as the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora do Castelo or the distinctive and intimate Cistercian Monastery of São Cristóvão de Lafões. The territory of the Route and the defined region of Dão overlap. There are about 20,000 hectares of vineyards spread in heights between 400 and 500 meters.
This is a rare history of the landscape and gardening arts in Portugal.