A DAY TRIP TO JARDINS DA QUINTA DAS LÁGRIMAS, COIMBRA
We recently visited the wonderful Quinta das Lágrimas Gardens (House of Tears). The gardens are located on the left bank of the river Mondego and the estate occupies an area of 18.3 hectares. The entry cost is €2.50 per adult, €1 for Under 15’s and Over 65’s and a family of 2 adults and 2 children costs €5. Opening hours were 10.00-19.00 Tuesday-Sunday when we visited in Summer. The gardens are very beautiful and filled with exotic plants and trees. The surrounding woodland is a great natural environment to explore and there is a pretty lake and 19th century palace which is now a luxury hotel and there is even a golf course. I was excited to visit the gardens and find out more about the history of love and tragedy. I am a hopeless romantic at heart so found it an enchanted and fascinating place to explore.
Points of interest:
- Garden entrance
- Golf Academy
- Ticket office Information & gift shop
- Woods entrances
- Fonte dos Amores (14th century)
- Fonte das Lágrimas (16th century)
- Neo-gothic arch (19th century)
- Bamboo garden
- Bamboo lake
- Medieval garden
- Romantic garden (19th century)
- Amphitheatres lake
- Water reservoir (17th century)
- Water canal
- Colina de Camões amphitheatre
- New fountain
- Medieval fountain
- Japanese garden
- Hotel entrance
- Terraces – panoramic views of Coimbra
The story of a forbidden love
(One of the most beautiful love stories of all time)
This wonderful place hides many secrets and a great love story of forbidden love kept alive by it’s legends. You may be aware of Prince Pedro (heir to the throne and son of the Portuguese King Afonso IV) and Inês de Castro, the famous lovers of Portugal and often referred to as the Portuguese Romeo and Juliet. The story starts in the 14th century, under pressure from the royal family to marry into royalty Pedro I married Constança Manuel and had 3 sons with her. He then fell in love with her maid/lady in waiting, Inês de Castro and started a secret love affair. This was frowned upon by the royal family so Inês was sent to a nunnery. Pedro could not visit so he sent love letters through little wooden boats and bottles via the water pipe channels. In the gardens there is a canal named “Cano dos Amores” (Canal of Love) and the old legend tells a story that this canal was used to transport love letters between the nunnery and royal palace. How romantic and cute is that? Apparently these waters were turned red by the blood of Inês who was assassinated here and it is said that traces of her blood can still be found on the rocks! Don’t panic, the marks are actually red algae.
Inês left the nunnery and moved to a cottage nearby which is now called Quinta das Lágrimas. Constança died giving birth so Pedro started visiting Inês and they had 3 children together. The king was strongly opposed to this as he feared Inês sons would rise to the throne so he sent men to murder Inês and she was beheaded in the fountain of tears, the place of their secret meetings. Poor Pedro grieved for years and when he became king he got his revenge by ordering the execution of those who had involvement in the killing of the love of his life. He claimed that they had secretly married and therefore imposed her recognition as Queen of Portugal. They now rest together side by side in tombs at the Royal Monastery of Alcobaça.
The gardens were practically empty and we only saw 6 other people. One lady was with her mother and son and was making her son, who looked about 10 take some provocative photos of her which was pretty awkward to watch. I always find it weird when ladies drape themselves in such a sexual way over a monument with such history and symbolic meaning. This lady was practically humping the monument then she did the same with the bamboo like she was a pole dancer, oh well it certainly takes all sorts to make the world go around. The funniest part was when I took photos of hubby he reenacted her poses and the family looked over and saw him (ha ha). We loved the bamboo garden, fountains, arch and the huge ancient tree with epic roots. I matched the tree in green (ha ha). In Lisbon my dress matched my doughnut but in Coimbra my dress matched the trees. It worked out as a great camouflage outfit as I could run away and hide from the crazy 2 whenever I felt like it (ha ha).
There was a wedding going on so we couldn’t embarrass Teanna by holding hands and having a kiss in the Romantic Gardens much to her delight. I was tempted to gate crash the wedding and was challenged by my family who dared me to try and sneak into the wedding event. I was the only one wearing a dress but unfortunately I was also wearing my trusty comfy trainers. If I were wearing heels I might have tried my luck, especially for some wedding cake and a glass of Portuguese vinho (ha ha). We were not told at the ticket office that this area would be out of bounds due to a wedding. Personally I think they should have waived the entrance fee if they were holding an event there or at least told us it was happening.
It is a beautiful garden but to be honest I think the Botanical Gardens in Coimbra is equally as nice if not better and doesn’t come with the entrance fee. There were also a few places we couldn’t view. One being a fantastic viewpoint, not accessible as trees had fallen due a recent storm so after walking up to the viewpoint we were faced with a sign and roped off area, why not put the sign at the bottom to save our ageing legs! Other viewpoints were obscured by trees so not much of a view. This is all obviously non avoidable as down to nature and I am still glad I visited as it was a beautiful, tranquil family fun day.
Afterwards we wandered over to Parque Verde to check out where we had to go for our upcoming paddle boarding lesson. The pretty coloured glass pedestrian bridge over the Mondego river is called Pedro e Inês Bridge! We consumed a tasty ice cream then had a little wander around Coimbra. I bought my cousin a fishy delight from the famous sardine shop and there is always time for a cafe pit stop. We were entertained by a rapper musician, he wasn’t that good (ha ha). We enjoyed seeing the crazy yarn bombing and there was a fantastic huge green bear and a rainbow water display which was a beautiful end to a family day out, who doesn’t love a rainbow.