Parque de Serralves is located in the urban area of Porto. It is one of the first artistically designed gardens created in Portugal in the first half of the 20th century.
In the park there is the Serralves Museum and the Casa de Serralves. These can be visited, just like the park, for a fee.
Creation of the Parque de Serralves
Around the agricultural homestead of the Count of Vizela was the garden Quinta do Lordelo. Local gardeners had laid it out in the Victorian style of the late 19th century. The design focused on organically designed flowerbeds and decorative ornaments.
Gradually, the owner acquired other adjacent lands in addition. Around 1940, the estate had reached its current size of over 18 hectares. Several buildings such as a hunting pavilion, a farm and some farm buildings connected with harmoniously designed area were part of the estate.
Carlos Alberto Cabral, the second Count of Vizela (1895-1968), had apparently taken a liking to the design of gardens during his visit Exposition Internationale de Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925. He commissioned French landscape architect Gréber to redesign his estate. The 1932 design was influenced by 16th- and 17th-century French gardens in the Art Deco and modern classicist styles. The landscape designer took into account existing elements, such as a small lake, and skillfully incorporated them into his ideas.
After the sale of the estate in the early 1950s to the Count of Riba d’Ave, the structure of the park has remained recognizable to this day. Even with the acquisition of the land by the Portuguese state in 1986, they changed as little as possible in the park and gradually opened it to visitors.
Tour of the Parque de Serralves
There is a fee to visit the park. Tickets can be purchased in the building of the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves (Serralves Contemporary Art Museum), which is located directly at the park entrance.
In the park area there are signposted circular paths of different lengths, the Treetop Walk and some rather lonely paths that are hardly used by visitors. The area is divided into two large sections. In the northern area is the Casa de Serralves park and in the southern area are the agricultural areas around the Quinta do Mata-Sete homestead. About 230 different native and exotic plants grow in the park today.
Casa de Serrales
We were first drawn along some beautifully landscaped paths towards Casa de Serrales. On the way there, we passed some sculptures in the park, such as a huge red shovel called Plantoir or the large Sky Mirror.
The Sky Mirror lives up to its name. We stayed there for a while and could watch the passing airplanes in the reflecting surface. A very interesting perception.
In the northwest of the park we reached the Casa de Serrales. The reddish building has a terrace facing the park and from there you have a very nice view of a fountain.
The building was built by a Portuguese architect in the years 1925-1944. Carlos Alberto Cabral and his wife Blanche Daubin moved into the villa in 1944, and the interior is said to have been designed by renowned interior architects and designers. Already in 1957, they sold their property to Delfim Ferreira (1888-1960), the Count of Riba d’Ave. After his death, the heirs sold the property in 1987 to the Portuguese state, which wanted to build a museum of modern art on the site. Today, the Serralves Foundation, created for this purpose, uses it for events and temporary exhibitions.
Following the paths along the fountain, we came to a staircase leading to a small pond.
In the middle of Parque de Serralves there is a Treetop Walk, which can be accessed free of charge when visiting the park. The Foundation wants to allow visitors to see the vegetation of the park from a different perspective.
Through a small turnstile one reached the wooden path, which leads in a gentle slope past the treetops. Comparing this trail to other treetop trails, I’m a bit disappointed. Even in November, you could barely see anything through the trees and there was quite little information about the vegetation. At one point, a small viewing platform offers a pretty good view of the pasture area in the park.
The long way to the gardener’s house led us past a large pasture area. Here sheep and donkeys grazed peacefully side by side.
The gardener’s house is now used as a place of knowledge. Here we could see a small artistic exhibition on the subject of mushrooms and in a somewhat hidden room at the back of the building was a small scientific exhibition with experiment stations.
At the very end of our tour, we arrived back at the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves (Serralves Contemporary Art Museum). The building opened in 1999 with an exhibition. The foundation had previously commissioned a Portuguese architect to design a building that not only met the requirements for the presentation of art, but could also be visually integrated into the concept of the park.
The museum is one of the most important Portuguese museums of contemporary art. Those who like to visit exhibitions with this focus should visit the museum after the tour of the park.
R. Dom João de Castro 210,
4150-417 Porto, Portugal
Monday -Friday: 10-18 h
Saturday, Sunday: 10-19 h
Book entrance fees for the park:
With the PortoCard you get a reduced entrance fee.